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CUTTING THE COST

Palm Springs is formally considering forming a municipal utility to keep electricity costs down once the electricity market is deregulated. City councillors also formally voted to buy at least 5 MW of renewable energy. A shortlist of 16 potential wholesale providers of renewables power included several involving wind.

As California nears market deregulation, Palm Springs is formally considering forming a municipal utility to keep electricity costs down. City councillors in the community, near the San Gorgonio Pass, also formally voted on January 3 to buy at least 5 MW of renewable energy, a move welcomed by the local wind industry.

A list of potential wholesale power providers of renewables power was narrowed from 36 to 16 applicants, including several involving wind. "Of course everyone is worried about their year 11 rates," says long-time industry insider Neal Emmerton, referring to the 11 year price cliff reached by wind plant operators selling their power under Standard Offer 4, now expiring after ten years.

And on January 17 officials from Palm Springs, eight other small towns nearby, and from Riverside County met for the first time to consider forming a municipal utility. Because the meeting took place before California state regulators announced a final plan for power deregulation state-wide, the communities could qualify for lower wheeling rates under existing state regulations. Palm Springs has some of the highest electricity rates in the United States.

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