CALIFORNIA CITY — The City Council on Tuesday approved starting the process to create a municipal utility to provide electricity within the city limits at some future time.

The resolution unanimously approved by the Council does not obligate the city to create a utility, but allows for it when circumstances warrant it, according to the staff report.

California City has a number of undeveloped areas that lack infrastructure, including electrical power. As some of these areas have been considered for development by the commercial marijuana industry, getting electrical power to them has proven to be an obstacle.

Southern California Edison has told the city it does have the capacity to extend power to these areas and won’t for some time into the future.

The city, however, has been approached about creating individual micro- or nano-grids for electrical power using solar to serve these areas, Interim Public Works Director Joe Barragan said.

“We see this nano-grid as a good way to start it, minimizing a lot of risk,” he said.

As presented by interested investors, the financial risk for establishing these small electrical grids would not fall to the city, but to the investors themselves, he said in answer to a question posed by Councilmember Ron Smith.

“I’m good with zero risk,” Smith said.

Setting up the framework for a municipal utility allows city staff to meet with investors and Southern California Edison about some of these potential projects.

Should the city decide it wants to move forward with these, the municipal utility provides the basis.

The utility would be a means of economic development for the city by creating areas open for development and removing at least one obstacle to that development.

No further steps, such as specific projects, would be taken without Council approval, Barragan said.

“In my opinion, it’s a great way for the city, at no, or extreme minimal (financial risk), for us to get critical infrastructure installed or replaced,” Planning Commissioner Jim Creighton said.

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