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SSJID Electric Services

Bringing Retail Electric Services to our Communities

Listen to SSJID’s General Manager discuss efforts to provide local retail electric service in an interview with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Local Energy Rules Podcast.
Listen to SSJID’s General Manager discuss efforts to provide local retail electric service in an interview with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Local Energy Rules Podcast.

Ongoing Financial Feasibility Studies

SSJID has been actively working for many years to replace Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) as the electric utility for customers in Escalon, Manteca, Ripon and surrounding areas. As part of the long process, SSJID was required to obtain approval from a San Joaquin County agency called the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo).
After countless studies, reports and findings indicated that we could successfully provide electric service, a LAFCo hearing held in late 2014 resulted in SSJID being approved to become the electric provider for the district. PG&E immediately sued to have that decision overturned in San Joaquin County Superior Court.

That setback didn’t deter us or make us question our desire to become the electric provider for the homes, schools, businesses and city governments in southern San Joaquin County. We’re doing it because it will bring tremendous benefits to our area’s economy and to individuals and entities throughout the region.

First, as a public nonprofit agency, SSJID is committed to providing electric service with rates 15% lower than PG&E’s. If we’re ultimately successful, it’s estimated that our lower rates will save people in our service area more than $15.5 million in the first year alone. That’s a significant economic shot in the arm for families and local businesses that will continue year after year.

Second, SSJID will give area residents local control and a voice in how their electric service is provided and priced. Our Board members live and work in the area and are elected by residents. They’re dedicated to running SSJID, which has been in business since 1909, in a safe, honest, customer-focused and cost-efficient manner.

Public Board meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at our office located centrally in Manteca. As a customer of PG&E, a for-profit, investor-owned utility, you’d have a hard time tracking down its CEO or a board member, and are not allowed to attend its private meetings held in the Bay Area. At SSJID, you can find a Board member doing business in your community, and you can stop by our office and speak directly to our general manager or any of our staff at your convenience.

SSJID continues to invest in updated studies and financial feasibility reports to make sure we’ll be able to deliver reliable electric service and at lower rates. And if, at any point, we find conditions have changed so we can’t do what the latest studies show, then we will not pursue the plan any further. 

There are many reasons we’re confident we can provide electric service with increased benefits, but these are at the top of the list:

  • We don’t collect a profit from ratepayers to benefit shareholders like PG&E does.
  • Our overhead is lower and we don’t have to pay corporate income taxes.
  • We can borrow money for major improvements at lower interest rates than PG&E.

SSJID is proud to serve the people in our district with high-quality water for farmers and cities, and we believe providing community-owned and operated electric service is a great way to benefit everyone in our service area and a good reason to keep working hard to make our plan your reality.

Capturing the Power of Water: The Tri-Dam Project

The Tri-Dam Project is a partnership between the South San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID) and the Oakdale Irrigation District (OID). Together, they developed, operate and maintain the Beardsley, Donnells and Tulloch projects, including the dams, tunnels, penstocks, powerhouses, communications systems and general offices. These facilities are located on the the Stanislaus River.

Tri-Dam Power Authority is a similarly governed and managed entity, but separate from the Tri-Dam Project. It has responsibility for the Sandbar hydroelectric plant, which is also located on the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River.
Originally, SSJID and OID were interested in water development projects and continue to be responsible for providing irrigation water to their service territories in the greater Manteca and Oakdale regions. The Beardsley, Donnells and Tulloch facilities provide SSJID and OID with storage reservoirs necessary to meet this water obligation. The cost to add electric generating facilities to the water storage projects was relatively minor.
Stored water is used to irrigate about 117,500 acres on farms in San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties. The irrigated land supports almonds, walnuts, grapes, other crops and pasture.
The “Upper Works” include Donnells and Beardsley dams, reservoirs, powerhouses and associated facilities. The “Lower Works” refer to the Tulloch development below Jamestown reaching into both Calaveras and Tuolumne counties.

The Tri-Dam Project is governed by a joint Board of Directors composed of the five-member boards of SSJID and OID. Day-to-day activities of the Tri-Dam Project and Tri-Dam Power Authority are overseen by a general manager who reports to the Board. The administrative offices of the Tri-Dam Project are located in Strawberry, CA.

Operational Savings from the Sun: Robert O. Schulz Solar Farm

Phase 1 of the Robert O. Schulz Solar Farm built in Stanislaus County in 2008 features 6,720 175-watt crystalline modules mounted on a single-axis solar tracking system. Tracking systems can optimize peak-time output by as much as 15% over similarly-sized fixed-mounted systems. They do this by incrementally adjusting panel angles to follow the trajectory of the sun.

Phase 2 came online in 2009. It is believed to be the world’s first single-axis solar tracking system featuring thin-film photovoltaic cells. The 419-kilowatt system completed the 1.4-megawatt (MW) solar energy solution that saves SSJID nearly $400,000 a year in utility costs for our Nick C. DeGroot Water Treatment Plant.

The two-phase project provides a unique cost-benefit analysis on how two distinct solar energy solutions—crystalline panels and thin-film—perform under a range of climatic conditions. The application of thin-film on a solar tracking system as a way to optimize energy collection in perennially dusty or foggy areas has generated interest not only among those in areas with conditions similar to Stanislaus County, but also among economic policymakers and environmental stewards in Washington, D.C.

The project’s main goal is to stabilize electricity costs, which can spike substantially in summer months. In addition to the project’s annual electric bill savings, the solar energy systems provide the District with a hedge against rising electricity costs.