On the MID agenda

Other items on the agenda for the Modesto Irrigation District board Tuesday:

• Mountain House: The board will discuss the financial performance of this electricity service area northwest of Tracy. Critics say the MID was wrong to expand to the new town, which has developed more slowly than planned, but district officials say the investment will pay off.

• Surcharges: The board will continue to consider adding surcharges to power bills to reflect certain costs, such as environmental mandates or the price of natural gas for power plants. A decision on the surcharges, which could be tacked onto the 7 percent general rate increase approved in January, would come at a later meeting.

• Gas plant: The board will consider awarding an $18.4 million contract for expansion of the gas-fueled power plant on Woodland Avenue. Haskell Corp. of Bellingham, Wash., put in that bid, the lowest of six received. The company would build a structure housing $35.9 million worth of generating equipment that the MID has bought for the 49.6-megawatt expansion.

• Reserves: The board will consider reducing its goal for how much reserves should be maintained in the electricity system. The goal has been $200 million, but reserves stand at about $105 million because recent rate increases were less than planned. This could result in a downgrade in the MID's bond rating, which helps determine the interest rate on bond issues for capital projects.

• Smart grid: The board will consider $1.89 million worth of work aimed at improving the electricity grid. The work, most of it funded by a $1.49 million federal grant, includes voltage controls and other improvements to reduce energy loss at substations. It also includes a test of time-of-use billing, which provides discounts for customers who run appliances in times of low demand, such as at night. Eventually, all customers could be billed this way, via the high-tech meters that have recently been installed.