PUD Broadband plan still alive
Staff at the Truckee Donner Public Utility District are once again moving forward putting financing in place to build a long-planned fiber-optic broadband network.”The last several years have been devoted to bringing broadband services to the community and we need to continue to move forward aggressively,” said William Thomason, a newly-elected district board member.Thomason’s comments reflect the confidence the board has in being able to move forward with the project, in spite of an ongoing legal challenge posed by local cable provider Cebridge Connections. Cebridge disagrees with the Nevada County Local Agency Formation Commission’s approval of the project.The broadband project has essentially been on hold for the last 60 days to allow interested parties to file lawsuits blocking the project. And while Cebridge currently has a suit pending against LAFCo, the district was not named in that suit and thus is moving forward with its plans.”We’re excited to actively proceed and get back on track,” said Alan Harry, the district’s telecommunications director. “The community has been behind the broadband project and we’d simply like to bring it to them as soon as possible.”Harry hopes to have financing in place to build the $24-million system and actually start construction on the fiber network as soon as possible.District to consider electric, water rate increasesAt the district board’s regular meeting on Wednesday, members conducted a budget workshop with staff that outlined the need for an increase in electric and water rates.At issue was the “customer charge” on the electric side and “flat rate base” on the water side for all residential and commercial customers of those utilities.The board vowed to discuss the proposed rate increases further and possibly vote on the matter at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 2.Current plans call for an across-the-board $1 increase in the monthly electric customer charge, which currently ranges from $5 per month for permanent residents at their homes to $425 per month for large commercial customers. Likewise, staff has proposed a $1.73 hike in the base rate that all water customers currently pay.The $1 increase on the electric side would result in a 20 percent hike for permanent residents but only a quarter-percent increase for the biggest commercial users; a similar situation exists on the water side.District staff said it would bring an additional option to the next board meeting that would raise all of the multiple levels of customer charges and base water rates by the same percentage rather than by the same dollar amount. Board members would then be allowed to choose which scenario made the most sense.TDPUD board meetings are held the first and third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the TDPUD board room, 11570 Donner Pass Road, Truckee.