Nevada City close to funding underground utility line |

Nevada City close to funding underground utility line

Nevada City is $200,000 away from putting utility lines underground on upper Broad Street, and will discuss asking Nevada County for the money at its next meeting.

The city has worked with utility companies on the design, implementation and cost savings for the underground conversion. However, it only has about $740,000 — short of the roughly $940,000 needed even after borrowing against future funding.

The money will come from California Public Utility Commission Electric Rule 20A, which charges rate payers about $1 a month that is then annually allocated to communities like Grass Valley, Nevada City and Nevada County to fund underground lines.

According to staff reports, Nevada City has accumulated $644,431 in Rule 20A funds and is borrowing about $100,000 from future credits. Over the last 14 years Grass Valley, Nevada City and Nevada County have averaged $60,493, $26,106 and $466,141, respectively, in funds, according to a PG&E report.

The city hasn’t yet determined if it will ask for a loan from the county to be repaid over 15 years, or ask for the money as a gift, as it would provide mutual benefit to city and county residents.

The Nevada City Council next meets on Wednesday.

Nevada City’s move to ask for funding is part of a trend created by the program’s inability to fund projects, which has created a secondary market for Rule 20A credits, according to a 2016 program review.

Additionally, a 2019 audit of how PG&E used the Rule 20A program revealed the company diverted $123 million from the program, exacerbating wait times and increasing costs for projects. The audit also found the recent changes meant to improve effectiveness of the Rule 20A program have not increased their performance and revealed problems in the design, implementation and operation of the program’s controls.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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