Court Advances South San Joaquin Irrigation District Bid To Replace PG&E As Local Power Provider
January 3, 2022
by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
January 3, 2022
California’s South San Joaquin Irrigation District (SSJID) was recently handed a key victory by an appeals court in SSJID’s ongoing bid to replace investor-owned Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) as the local retail electric service provider.
The December decision issued by the Third District Court of Appeal validated the Local Agency Formation Commission’s approval of SSJID’s ability and authority to provide retail electric utility service to its customers. The decision also allows the district to move forward with the ability to provide those services by purchasing PG&E’s facilities through the process of eminent domain.
Since 2004, SSJID has been actively working to replace PG&E as the electric utility for customers in Manteca, Escalon, Ripon and surrounding areas.
As part of that process, SSJID was required to obtain approval from a San Joaquin County agency called the Local Agency Formation Commission.
In 2014, after five independent studies and a public workshop before the Local Agency Formation Commission, it found that SSJID’s business plan was sound and that SSJID has the ability to carry out its service commitments.
PG&E filed a lawsuit to have the decision overturned in San Joaquin County Superior Court. After continued litigation and some favorable court decisions for SSJID, SSJID offered to purchase local electric distribution assets from PG&E in 2016.
After PG&E indicated its assets were not for sale, the District filed a lawsuit to gain the right to purchase the assets from PG&E, through a process called eminent domain
On March 25, 2020, SSJID and PG&E stipulated to a “relief from stay” in a hearing in a PG&E bankruptcy proceeding that would allow ongoing litigation between the two parties to continue. This stipulation allowed for final briefs to be filed and for the appellate court to take the appeals under consideration.
SSJID has offered to pay PG&E $116 million for the power lines, substations and transmission infrastructure required to deliver electricity to the region.
SSJID was established in 1909 and is headquartered in Manteca, Calif.
SSJID provides agricultural irrigation water to about 56,000 acres surrounding Escalon, Ripon and Manteca, and wholesale drinking water to the cities of Manteca, Lathrop, Tracy, indirectly serving over 193,000 residents, and in the future, the city of Escalon.
SSJID, along with Oakdale Irrigation District, owns and operates the Tri-Dam Project, a series of storage reservoirs and electric generation facilities that produce zero-carbon hydropower in the Stanislaus Riverwater shed.