UPA wants to wait for a rainy day

June 25, 2003 12:00 am

By MIKE MORRIS

For Utica Power Authority board members, April showers don't bring flowers, they bring contract revisions.

The board unanimously voted last night to renegotiate its contract with the Northern California Power Agency after a drastic increase in rainfall during April.

Board members want the start of the agency's contract with NCPA extended from April 1 to May 1 so the group can better gauge whether it will be a "wet" or "dry" year.

UPA, a local water and power agency, determines how to use or sell its water depending on the "wet" or "dry" forecast made annually by Department of Water Resources personnel, and May is the last month of the year the department forecasts.

"We possibly want to extend the deadline a month to have a more true picture of what's to come," said UPA Chairwoman and Angels Camp Mayor Debbie Ponte after the meeting.

UPA has found that its April 1 deadline can cause the group to experience financial loss and operate with a budget deficit, board members said.

Originally forecast as a "dry" month, April was met by an abundance of rain that caused water levels to rise from 460,000 acre feet to more than 700,000.

"Most years there have been no change, but this year, there has been a big change," Ponte said.

Of the past 67 years, 20 have gone from dry to wet in that one-month period, while only three have gone from wet to dry, with the remaining years staying the same.

Statistics like this sparked discussion among board members last month regarding the relationship between UPA and NCPA. This resulted in the creation of an ad hoc committee, which met with NCPA officials last Tuesday.

"(NCPA) is willing to work with us," said Larry Thompson, who represents Murphys on the UPA board. "They see our problems and seem to want to help us."

However, if the April deadline is extended, NCPA wants it to be retroactive to 2002. UPA would then owe NCPA about $16,000-$18,000 in compensation.