The Nevada County Grand Jury on Wednesday released its report investigating the recent approval of a 6 percent rate hike by the Nevada Irrigation District.
According to the report, NID’s board of directors previously had opted not to increase rates, instead using reserves to meet obligations.
“A decrease in revenue from the lower sales of their electric power, the cost of relicensing their hydroelectric facilities with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and contractual changes with Pacific Gas and Electric Company ... drastically reduced their reserves to dangerously low levels,” the report said. “If Nevada Irrigation District continued to operate in this fashion, the reserve fund would be totally depleted by 2020. This would make it impossible to respond to any unexpected event.”
The Grand Jury investigated the rate increase after a citizen complaint questioned the justification, the report noted.
The report said that NID is the primary source of drinking and irrigation water in western Nevada County, and its rates were currently below that of adjacent water agencies.
The Grand Jury found that the board of directors for NID had ignored their fiscal responsibility by failing to address increased costs, but recognized that NID was in fiscal trouble unless their business model changed.
“NID has made proactive fiscal decisions to control operating and maintenance costs and rebuild reserves,” the report concluded.
The Grand Jury had no recommendations for changes and required no response from NID.
To see a copy of the full report, go to www.nevadacountycourts.com and click on “Grand Jury Reports.”
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
UPDATE: This story was updated to clarify the headline and to report the Grand Jury required no response from NID.