This is the first of a two-part series on a public power status update. Public power agencies across the state have seen drops in demand. Almost all the munis have raised or plan to increase rates to make up for the load shortfall, as well as covering the costs of moving away from polluting fossil-fueled generation, expanding renewable power supplies, and modernizing their electrical infrastructures. \u201cThe single biggest issue is a reduction of [power] usage due to the economy,\u201d said Glen Steiger, Glendale Water & Power general manager. Glendale, however, managed to cut its rates last year when it invested in a project that lowered fuel costs. The economic slump, resulting job losses, and foreclosure crisis have caused power demand to fall in California. The Central Valley has been the hardest hit. Sacramento Municipal Utility District \u201ccustomers used almost 5 percent less energy than we planned for last year,\u201d said Cary Nethaway, SMUD controller. The decrease was from lower usage due to a slowed economy and fewer industrial consumers, he said. In contrast, Silicon Valley Power weathered the economic downturn quite well. Although its load initially dropped 2-3 percent in 2009, the loss has been made up by the influx and growth in datacenters. The rise in social media, including Facebook and Twitter, are credited with the resurgence in demand for server farms, according to Ann Hatcher, the electric utility assistant director. A big unknown for utilities is the cost impact of the Air Resources Board\u2019s regulations aimed at cutting carbon emissions from the power sector. All the prime renewable projects have been picked up by utilities. A limited buyers\u2019 market for alternative power remains. Silicon Valley Power\u2019s Hatcher pointed out other cost uncertainties of the state\u2019s climate protection legislation, AB 32, in particular \u201cthat gets layered in\u201d to the rules. That may include, for example, internalized costs such as for administration and compliance reporting. Fossil fuel power for utility customers still has an economic advantage because the pollution from its combustion--health and environmental--has been externalized and borne by society. Nearly all of California\u2019s public utilities support increasing their renewable energy levels to 33 percent of their power portfolios by 2020. Most, however, want their elected boards, not state lawmakers, to decide how to reach that goal. A number of power agencies, particularly in Northern California, have exceeded the state\u2019s current 20 percent renewable portfolio standard. Southern California munis--many of which are weaning themselves off coal power imports--are picking up the pace on renewable energy. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, the nation\u2019s largest municipal utility, hit the 20 percent mark last year. At least one other in the Southland reached an even higher level. But northern California is proving difficult to top, with Alameda\u2019s renewable level at more than 65 percent last year. More than one-fourth of Silicon Valley\u2019s resources are from alternative resources. Below is the first part of Current\u2019s municipal power agency status sampling. Part two is set for a subsequent issue. Alameda Municipal Power This small muni saw its demand drop 2 percent the previous two years. Alameda raised its rates 3.7 percent last July. The public utilities board tentatively approved annual rate hikes below 5 percent the next four years, according to Brad Wetstone, Alameda senior energy resource analyst. Last year, the muni reached a 66 percent alternative power level, according to unaudited results. \u201cWe are number one in the state in terms of renewable power,\u201d said Girish Balachandran, Alameda general manager. The muni has not installed so-called \u201csmart\u201d meters but is evaluating the investment. It saved 2,211 MWh in 2009, below the projected savings of 2,982 MWh. This 26 percent \u201cdecrease is due to the current economic crisis,\u201d which led to far fewer homeowners remodeling kitchens and replacing marginal appliances, according to a 2010 report, Energy Efficiency in California\u2019s Public Power Sector. Like other Bay Area munis with mild weather, Alameda has not invested in demand-response programs because its load is not driven by summer air conditioning, said Wetstone. Large consumer demand-response programs are being considered. Anaheim Public Utilities Anaheim Public Utilities\u2019 250,000 customers are in the midst of a 10 percent power rate hike approved by the city council late last year. The first 5 percent increase took effect December 1, 2010. The next 5 percent bump is to take place this coming December. The initial increase raised the average residential power bill in the city by about $3.50\/month. Anaheim Public Utilities general manager Marci Edwards told the council when it approved the hikes last November that they were needed because of a combination of factors. That included declining revenue in the recession, state mandates to control greenhouse gases, meeting environmental objectives, rising fuel prices, and power purchase costs. Muni spokesperson Margie Otto said the utility is building a new 200 MW gas-fired peaker plant--known as the Canyon Power Project. It should help control the cost of power in the future by limiting the muni\u2019s need to buy power off the grid. It\u2019s due to open toward the end of this year. The utility is moving to increase its reliance on renewable power. Currently, according to Otto, 11 percent of the utility\u2019s power is from renewable resources. The goal is to increase that to 20 percent by 2015 and 30 percent by 2020. Anaheim has an active energy efficiency program, which is coupled with water efficiency efforts. Together, according to Otto, rebates and incentives are provided in about 40 categories, from green building to lighting retrofits. The public utility also is rolling out \u201csmart\u201d meters, having placed them now on the premises of virtually all large business customers and installing 500 to 1,000 on homes each month. The muni hasn\u2019t leaned heavily on demand-response programs to meet peak needs, according to Otto, instead only testing the negawatt strategy to date. Burbank Water & Power A combination of energy conservation efforts and last year\u2019s mild summer led to a decrease of about $931,000 in projected funds for the fiscal year, which ends June 30, according to Jeanette Meyer, Burbank\u2019s marketing manager. Burbank\u2019s budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year was originally $397.8 million, $347.5 million of which is revenues and other income. The utility Jan. 1 instituted a nearly 3 percent rate increase. About 9 percent of all energy used by Burbank businesses and homes comes from renewable resources. The primary resource is wind power from three out-of-state wind farms. It also receives some out-of-state hydropower. Burbank in 2007 agreed to increase its renewable supplies to 33 percent by 2020. It plans to reach that goal largely by developing 25-35 MW of geothermal energy in the Imperial Valley and elsewhere, Meyer said. Glendale Water & Power Glendale Water & Power\u2019s 85,000 customers enjoyed a 9 percent cut in electric power rates at the beginning of 2010 because of a renewable energy project purchase. The city bought the gas system at Scholl Canyon Landfill to help fuel its Grayson Power Plant, saving about $9 million a year compared to what it would cost to buy conventional natural gas. Future projects may exert upward pressure on power rates in Glendale, the muni\u2019s general manger Steiger said. Glendale hit the 24.1 percent renewable energy mark without significant rate impacts. Steiger said the muni is nearing its 33 percent goal by 2020. He explained the utility has power purchase agreement options it could exercise \u201cat any moment\u201d that would further increase its renewable energy level by 7.64 percent, to a total of 31.74 percent. The renewable landfill gas purchase provides about 7.3 percent of the muni\u2019s power portfolio, with wind representing another 8 percent. The remainder of the renewable energy comes from a variety of sources, according to Steiger, including solar, small hydro, and geothermal energy. A solar incentive program has resulted in almost 1 MW of photovoltaic panels in the city, according to muni data. Glendale has extensive energy efficiency programs that have been cutting power demand by about 1 percent\/year, Steiger said. The muni\u2019s goal is to trim total power demand by 7 percent through efficiency by 2014. The muni expects to finish installing digital meters on all its customers\u2019 premises by this summer with the help of a $20 million grant the Department of Energy issued under the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act. Glendale has been using demand-response strategies to cut power usage by large business customers through a manually controlled program that\u2019s expected to be automated by this summer. Next, Steiger said, it plans to extend its demand-response effort to residential customers under new time-of-use rates. Imperial Irrigation District Power revenue is down about 5 percent this year compared to last in the Imperial Irrigation District, which services Imperial County and part of Coachella Valley in Riverside County. The recession not only lowered customer demand, but also reduced revenues from wheeling wholesale power through its transmission system. That plays a crucial link in moving electricity into the populous Southern California coastal area. The muni\u2019s approximately 145,000 customers have not seen a power rate increase for more than a decade. The district has a goal of reaching 20 percent renewable energy by 2012. It currently is at about 8 percent renewable energy, according to a public disclosure document. The muni--which offers an array of energy efficiency programs--aims to meet 5 percent of its energy needs through efficiency by 2015. Earlier this year, the irrigation district\u2019s board of directors accepted resignations from top managers and appointed long-time district press spokesperson Kevin Kelley to serve as general manager on an interim basis. The clean sweep came after a grand jury late last year issued a report criticizing the district for lack of transparency, protecting employees with unsatisfactory performance, and other questionable practices. Kelley declined to be interviewed for this report. The information is drawn from publicly available documents. When the board appointed him on February 1, he said that \u201cthe two major issues confronting the district,\u201d are \u201cthe planned expansion of the transmission system to convey renewable energy resources to the coast\u201d and \u201ca workable resolution\u201d of an agreement to transfer water traditionally used to irrigate sprawling farms to urban areas along the coast. Imperial Valley is rich in sunshine, geothermal, and biomass and is working to upgrade its transmission system to enable power from renewable energy projects to flow to the coast. IID has not yet undertaken a major roll out of digital meters. Los Angeles Dept. of Water & Power At the beginning of this year, Los Angeles Department Water & Power went from what city mayor Antonio Villaraigosa figuratively called \u201cworst to first\u201d in renewable energy. The nation\u2019s largest muni hit the 20 percent mark, up from 5 percent in 2005. LADWP data show that wind power comprises nearly half of its renewable energy, small hydro-electric 30 percent, geothermal\/biofuels 22 percent, and solar 1 percent. The milestone comes as the department is seeking to figure out how to achieve 33 percent renewable energy by 2020 under a new integrated resources plan, according to muni general manager Ron Nichols. This shift--including other major projects planned to modernize its grid and power plants--could cost about $25 billion over the next 10 years and $45 billion over 20 years. This is likely to entail annual rate hikes of about 5 percent to 8 percent for the next five years, followed by regular 3 percent to 4 percent per year increases over 20 years. The Los Angeles City Council is in the process of weighing the plan after a struggle over a rate hike last spring in which the city\u2019s lawmakers effectively turned down a 2.8 cents\/kWh rate increase in favor of a smaller 0.6 cent\/kWh increase. That amounted to about a 4.6 percent average hike for the muni\u2019s 1.4 million power customers. LADWP demand side programs blunted total customer demand by about an estimated 0.6 percent last year, muni data show. The department is seeking to step up the savings to about 1.8 percent this year and then about an additional 1 percent a year until it hits roughly 7 to 8 percent energy savings. The muni has an active solar incentive program under which it has seen 25 MW of photovoltaic capacity installed on business and household rooftops, according to spokesperson Carol Tucker. Incentive applications for another 37 MW are pending, she added. LADWP is in the process of installing 1.4 million \u201csmart\u201d power meters, plus \u201csmart\u201d water meters, according to spokesperson Brooks Baker. The muni is installing one-way meters at most homes and small businesses. These enable meter readers to simply walk or drive by homes and businesses to read power usage without taking the time to walk up to the meters themselves. Baker said that at larger businesses the muni is installing two-way meters which enable it to send demand-response signals to customers to reduce their power use during times of peak usage. So far, LADWP has outfitted about 8,000 of its large- and medium-sized customers with the two-way meters, Baker said. The muni also is installing the two-way meters on homes and small businesses with solar rooftops and electric cars so it can closely track their impact on the grid. About 3,000 have been installed for this purpose so far, with another 3,000\/year anticipated in the years ahead. Baker said that, with the help of a $120 million federal grant from the Department of Energy, the muni is making use of the two-way meters as part of its smart grid program. The meters effectively automate the utility\u2019s ability to collect real-time information on load, voltage, outages, system restoration, and power quality, he explained. Editor\u2019s note: The second part of this series will include status reports on munis from Merced to Silicon Valley Power.