City says yes to power cooperative

January 07, 2002 11:00 pm

By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

After a two-hour debate and a 4-1 vote, the Crescent City City Council agreed to join forces with the Nor-Cal Electric Authority last night with conditions.

Councilmembers C. Ray Smith and Mickey Youngblood voiced the strongest support for the city joining the JPA.

I guess Id like to say I definitely believe in public power, said Youngblood. Ive done a lot of research on it, (I) went to Sacramento and asked a lot of questions, and public power is a good idea if done right.

Before casting a yes vote, Mayor Herb Kolodner expressed his concern that the city is entering into an agreement that includes unanswered questions.

Some things are still in a very nebulous state and I dont know what effect it will have on the city, Kolodner said. And thats who we represent, the people of this city.

Crescent City City Attorney Dohn Henion submitted an 8-page draft called the Local Access and Support Agreement which seeks, in part, to protect the city from certain liabilities and guarantees payment of franchise fees to the city. This draft was attached to Crescent Citys adoption of the proposal.

It is now up to Nor-Cal whether or not to accept this document.

The decision by the City Council was a victory for Nor-Cal proponents. They believe the sale of PacifiCorps distribution system to Nor-Cal, a nonprofit public utility company representing several counties in Northern California, will mean lower rates for customers in the region, as compared to their counterparts served by other utility companies.

During the public comment period, audience members voiced their concerns, ranging from the city having a lack of protection from the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC), to holding a vote on the proposal locally, to the overall price of the agreement.

Councilmember Jack Burlake, who offered the single no vote, emphasized the high pricetag as he read from a list of concerns.

It would not be a sound decision on our part at this time to join the Nor-Cal JPA (Joint Powers Authority), Burlake said. If the price was reduced it would be a good deal.

PacifiCorp representative John Rush told the council his company was not likely to alter its offer much at this stage.

It has to be a fair deal to the seller as well as the buyer, said Rush. At this point were not going to move very far.

Henion told the council Siskiyou County has hired four consultants to study the deal and it expects a written report from them during the week of Jan 21. Nor-Cal general counsel Bob Black, who said he was familiar with the purpose of the study, complained the report would be biased against the deal from the outset.

Councilmember Glenn Gary was voted to represent the city on Nor-Cals board, assuming the amended proposal is accepted by the other members of Nor-Cal.

The cities of Yreka, Dunsmuir and Dorris have approved the Nor-Cal proposal, while Fort Jones, Mount Shasta, Etna and Montague have yet to make a decision.

Black said last week an application for the sale will be submitted to the PUC probably in February. He anticipated it would take 10-12 months for the PUC to analyze and approve the sale.