Redding City Council members voted 4-1 to pass an average $9-per-month electric rate increase, with more hikes expected, during a lengthy, agenda-packed meeting Tuesday night.
Paul Hauser, Redding Electric Utility director, explained that the electric rates would first climb by about $9 a month for the average customer. The chambers, mostly crowded for a large portion of the more than five-hours-long session, drew comments from 11 residents during a public hearing on the fee hikes.
“We’ve heard for years that electricity provided by REU is a bargain compared to PG&E, which covers much of the rest of the Shasta County,” said Mary Machado during the public comments. But the proposed increases, set to grow incrementally from 2009 through 2014, would mean a combined increase of $54 per month for the average rate payer, “which doesn’t feel like a bargain,” Machado said.
Most of the 11 residents who spoke disagreed with the rate hikes, citing similar versions of the need for an REU oversight committee and reallocating late fees to the REU fund (they are currently allocated to the city’s general fund).
The council voted 4-1, with Councilman Patrick Jones dissenting, in favor of a 7.84% rate increase over the next two years. About half the chamber’s audience left after the REU approval.
Also passed 4-1 Tuesday was approval for the Redding Municipal Airport to be awarded an estimated present-day value of $1.17 million in REU incentives for implementing a solar photovoltaic system. Councilman Jones dissented.
The airport project will use up the remainder of the funds for incentives until 2015, following an established first come, first served basis. However, some citizens who spoke at the meeting said they were unpleased their money was going to a fund that served businesses and airports instead of residents.
At the average $9,000 contribution to residents (were they to be approved for the incentive), the funds would have covered about 228 homes, Hauser had said.
Also Tuesday, the council:
— passed an amendment to the employee agreement for City Manager Kurt Starman and City Attorney Rick Duvernay. The two agreed to eliminate their forthcoming 4- and 5-percent pay increases, respectively.
— voted in favor of a non-binding letter of intent with Southern Aluminum Finishing Company regarding Lot 7 in the Stillwater Business Park.
Joshua Corbelli is a freelance reporter in Redding. Reach him at email@example.com
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