Striving to meet increased energy demands on sweltering summer days, the Riverside City Council voted Tuesday to build two power plants.
While most cities and counties are looking to cut costs at a time of fiscal uncertainty, there was little discussion and no controversy before the council's 7-0 vote to spend $75 million to build the 50 megawatt "peaker" plants and a transmission line. The plants will be off Payton Avenue north of the airport.
"The Public Utilities Department is our flagship department. They're trying to look not simply at continuing the status quo, but to being prepared for emergencies and being prepared for the uncertainties of the market," said Mayor Ron Loveridge. "I strongly favor the proposal."
The city's utilities department, more than a century old, has a glowing reputation in Riverside, where residential bills are 10% lower than a typical Edison bill and business utility bills are 25% lower. The new plants will help keep utility rates stable for both homeowners and businesses, said utilities director Tom Evans.