Power for the People: momentum builds for local control of electricity distribution

October 30, 2019

NID General Manager Rem Scherzinger welcomes participants to the workshop

Fueled by growing frustration with extended power shutoffs throughout our community, nearly 200 people attended a workshop hosted by the Nevada Irrigation District (NID) on Tuesday night to discuss the possibility of pursuing local control of the region’s electric distribution system.

“It’s about local control,” said NID’s General Manager Remleh Scherzinger. “It’s about taking back the opportunity to decide how we, as a community, want to run our power system.”

NID is proud to help facilitate the community conversation about this vitally important issue, which has escalated with numerous, prolonged Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) when the utility deems extreme weather conditions create a heightened fire risk that threatens public safety.

During the workshop, many participants cited concerns about fire dangers, but noted PG&E has been imposing extended PSPSs when local weather has been far from extreme. The outages are having widespread effects on the community, including on schools, medical facilities, businesses and the local economy, as well as prolonged impacts on daily life in our community.

This has resulted in increased urgency to explore a local solution, which, literally, would give power to the people. Participants said they felt empowered by the idea of local control and being self-sufficient.

Benefits of local control include:
* Under local control, the priority is an uninterrupted supply of safe, clean power for our region. A local solution means the utility is headquartered in, operating within and accountable to the community it serves.
* Access to locally elected policy-makers. Direct access also means increased reliability of service.
* Increased jobs and job opportunities. A local power solution is a natural for economic development within our community. It creates local jobs, such as customer service representatives, lineworkers, engineers, mechanics and administrators, and many more.
* Increased reliability of service. In the near-term and long-term, the focus is on delivering a reliable power supply. The connection is to customers in the community.
* Reduction of utility revenue leakage from local economy by keeping revenues at home and for the benefit of local ratepayers.

PG&E’s bankruptcy filing could have a significant effect on the future of electric supply in our region. There is an opportunity for our community to take a proactive step to gain control over our power future.

Moving forward, NID will look at all the ideas discussed at Tuesday’s meeting, including exploring an acquisition of PG&E’s infrastructure and power service operation. For updates and information, visit the NID website. If you want to make a comment or have a question, send it to power4people@nidwater.com. We will respond back.

Listen to Tuesday’s workshop at https://nidwater.com/2019/10/october-29-2019-workshop-to-discuss-local-power-future/.