By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

A state utility consultant will be in Crescent City next week to speak to officials and residents about the pros and cons of switching from a private to public power company.

Ray Czahar, a private consultant who worked as a planner during his 14 years with the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC), was invited by officials in Siskiyou County in early December to explain to them how a public power company would pan out.

According to Crescent City Mayor Herb Kolodner, there will probably be a quorum of city councilmembers at the presentation but because they will attend as audience members and not conduct any business, it will not be an official city council meeting.

Kolodner said he hopes there will be a strong turnout of local residents because the decision whether or not the city will accept the idea of a public power company, which will probably take place at the scheduled Jan. 7 council meeting, will be very important.

If we were to join in on this, were talking about upwards of $150 million thats a big investment, said Kolodner about the total price tag spread throughout the municipalities. There are still a lot of unanswered questions and not just for the City Council but for the residents of Crescent City.

Craig Bradford, executive director of the Del Norte Economic Development Corporation, said Czahar will be answering the same questions for Crescent City officials, who have not yet agreed to the idea of public power.

What he did was give them (Siskiyou officials) a totally independent viewpoint, said Bradford. Hes not associated with any local politicians, government agencies or with Pacific Power.

Pacific Power, which is owned by PacifiCorp in Oregon, has been trying to sell its California assets to Nor-Cal Electric Authority, the theoretical public power company seeking to buy out Pacific Power in Northern California.

On Thursday, Pacific Power announced it is requesting a 29.4 percent rate hike from the PUC for its customers in California because it is too costly for them to do business in the state.

Larry Bacon, city attorney for Yreka, where the presentation was given on Dec. 5, said Czahar was originally hired by the cities of Yreka and Dunsmuir so his input would allow them to make an educated decision about pursuing public power.

Ray came up and gave the presentation to about six or seven cities that had representatives there, said Bacon. The net result was he said he thought it (the Nor-Cal buyout) was a fair transaction fair to ratepayers. When he was asked if it was a super great deal, he said he wouldnt characterize it that way, but that it was fair.

Bacon said city representatives that attended were from Yreka, Dunsmuir, Fort Jones, Montague, Etna, Mount Shasta and Dorris.

Bacon said he believed Fort Jones and Montague would be approving the public utility idea with a vote very shortly. But Mount Shasta and Etna are still question marks.

All of the cities in Siskiyou County will be deciding one way or the other in the first two weeks of January, said Bacon.

Czahar will be speaking at the Crescent City Cultural Center at 1001 Front Street on Jan. 3 between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.