Santa Clara City Council passes power rate hike, clarifies alcohol ordinance

SANTA CLARA – City officials approved an increase in Santa Clara electric rates at a special city council meeting Wednesday. The meeting included a public hearing to give members of the community a chance to comment, however no members of the public spoke during the hearing.

The increase is needed to cover costs, maintain aging infrastructure and allow for an emergency fund, Public Works Director Jack Taylor told the council.

The increase was brought to the council after several months of review which included an electric rate study.

“Through this study we found out that this next year we will not make our bond covenants,” Taylor said. “The recommendations came out of this study that we needed to increase our rates so that we could make our bond covenants.”

In addition, “renewal and replacement” work has not been done in the past few years due to lack of funds, Taylor said.

“So as our infrastructure continues to get older, we will not have the funds to replace those power poles, wires, whatever it might be in the system in the future,” he said.

Transmission costs have gone up 65 percent over the past few years, for every city power department in Utah, Taylor said. As coal-fired plants shut down, older and cheaper sources of electricity are going away. Natural gas prices are relatively inexpensive right now, however, that will likely change.

“The future doesn’t look real bright for (power) resources,” Taylor said.

The city needs to build up emergency funds as well, Taylor said. This could save the city money in the long run, because it wouldn’t have to bond for extra funds in case of emergency.

“So we tried to go as long as we possibly could without having an increase, but this is one of the main reasons we moved forward with this (rate increase),” Taylor said.

Three levels of rate increases were considered; Taylor and the council settled on the middle option. Rates will increase slightly each year for the next three years.

For an average resident, the monthly electric bill will increase by $9.20 by 2018. The rate hikes are incremental, with an average resident paying $3.41 more each month in 2016, an additional $3.32 per month in 2017 and an additional $2.47 in 2018. The new rates will go into effect Dec. 15, Brock Jacobsen, assistant city manager, said.

Under the new power rate structure, the base charge for residential customers will rise from the current $17.50 to $20 in 2018. For the first block of power use, 0-500 kilowatt hours, the rate will rise from the current 0.0810 to 0.0874 in 2018.

The second block, 501-1500 kwh, will rise from 0.0850 to 0.0885 by 2018. The third block, 1501 kwh and up, stays at the current 0.0985. The average residence uses about 1,200 kwh per month. For information on commercial rates, see Santa Clara power rates.

Alcohol ordinance clarified

The City Council also held a public hearing on changes to the city’s alcoholic beverage ordinance. The changes are designed to clarify the ordinance and bring it up to date, City Attorney Matt Ence said.

The new ordinance makes it easier for applicants to comply with both city and state regulations, Ence said, and makes it easier to apply for an alcohol license. The old ordinance required an applicant to have five character references, all from residents of Santa Clara. Now, only three references are required, and there is no residency requirement.

The new ordinance has a provision for educational uses of alcohol, which will allow the new Harmons Neighborhood Grocer to hold cooking classes that use alcohol as an ingredient.

Other changes include removing a requirement that alcohol license holders appear before the City Council each year; and a clarification of the 600-foot proximity restriction.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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  • NotSoFast November 19, 2015 at 9:42 am

    And I thought the ‘good old boys club’ was only a city of St. George thing. ( you want a new Harmon’s store in your neighborhood? change a few outdated things, you dig?

  • laytonian November 19, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Really? A business owner just can’t apply for a beer and alcohol permit?
    They have to stand up every year and be “counseled”?
    You don’t trust HARMONS?


    • NotSoFast November 19, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      Of course I trust Harmon’s Laytonian.
      I just don’t trust the local good old boys to be fair to all. For example: Harmon’s in St. George is allowed to serving wine, cheese, crackers in their store. While the next door neighbor, (Alfredo’s, a new Italian restaurant,) is not allowed to serve wine with the Italian cuisine because there’s a small park, separated by a block wall in the rear. (the same rear neighbors to Harmon’s behind the same block wall.) The State of Utah says No problem. Get the city to sign off and here’s your permit. See a problem here?

  • 42214 November 19, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    Utah is a leader in prescription drug abuse, we have meth running rampant in the area and we still have archaic and prudish alcohol laws so strict that cooking classes with wine needs regulating. Nero is fiddling while Rome burns all around us. Maybe the church will let children of gay parents drink because they’re second class citizens.

  • .... November 20, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Yeah and people like Brian think the law should only apply to Americans. And the illegals should be able to do anything they want

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