Imperial, California - A Los Angeles County Superior court judge Monday granted a preliminary injunction preventing the county of Riverside from implementing a controversial ordinance that, if enacted, would bypass the authority of the Imperial Irrigation District to set electric rates for its customers.
In granting the injunction, Judge Mary Strobel found that the county’s ordinance conflicts with state law and, if enacted, would cause irreparable harm to the district, Frank Oswalt, IID general counsel, reported.
Although no final rulings were made, Oswalt said the court determined that there was a likely probability that IID would prevail if the matter were fully contested. Further, should the ordinance be enacted, the IID board and staff would be irreparably harmed by the prescribed criminal penalties in the ordinance, and the district harmed by the millions in unrecoverable costs to implement it.
In June, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors approved Ordinance No. 943, that would have required IID to scrap its publicly vetted and board adopted solar tariff, net energy billing and create a new solar tariff that closely resembles that of a privately owned utility, Southern California Edison. All this at the request of a private business owner whose business is located in Riverside County and stands to directly benefit financially from the impacts of this ordinance.
“The notion that Riverside County would usurp IID’s ratemaking authority and adopt an ordinance that violates state law is inherently unreasonable and unprecedented,” said James Hanks, IID board president. “Today’s action by the court is a win for the district and its ratepayers.”
In making her ruling, Judge Strobel also noted several potential areas in which the county’s ordinance may conflict with the Public Utilities Act.