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From the islands to Bethlehem, friends see history during cruise

Dottie Thomspon, Gary and Tina Baker, Cheri Audia, Cary and Terri Hall, Connie Valdovinos and Betty Castaneda traveled around Athens, Israel and Turkey on recent cruise.

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General Mills is among Lodi’s biggest electric users and provides an estimated $2 million or more in revenue annually to the city.

It is unclear exactly how much will be lost if the West Turner Road plant closes at the end of 2015, as customer bills are not public record and the city declined to identify how much revenue it receives from General Mills.

Utility rates in general are used not only to pay for the electricity the city purchases for resale, but for maintenance and infrastructure improvements. A portion goes back into the city’s general fund to pay salaries, among other expenses.

Based on the city’s projections to sell 440 million kilowatt hours this year, John Johnson, former chairman of the city’s budget and finance committee, said if General Mills uses an estimated 6 percent of Lodi Electric Utility’s budgeted amount, at 10 cents per kilowatt hour that totals $2.6 million in lost revenue.

An on-site plant allows General Mills to generate some of its own power, but it still purchases from the city, which buys power and sells it to General Mills and other companies at a lower rate, according to Johnson.

“When you’re selling that many kilowatts you don’t need to make much revenue,” he said. “I would guess it costs the city more to serve my block than General Mills.”

Johnson believes General Mills is the city’s largest electric customer.

The company also pays the city for sewer and water based on usage, but those figures are also not available, city spokesman Jeff Hood said.

In a statement released Thursday, the city said staff is taking the initial steps to assess the economic impact of a closure on the Lodi community, but that will take time to complete.

Although General Mills will have to continue to pay until the property is sold, San Joaquin County coffers, too, would be affected, as the company pays close to $1.5 million annually in property taxes.

Public records show it paid $1.42 million in property taxes for its Lodi plant in 2013-14, and $1.44 million in 2012-13.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodi news.com.

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