Redding community leaders successfully acquired PG&E's electric utility distribution system in Redding and as a result, in 1921, REU was formed. Its mission was, and still is to provide the citizens of Redding with reliable, safe, and low-cost power.
REU was at a "cross roads" with its power supply. The nation's economy was in recession, future power supplies and transmission were strained and Redding once again needed to take control of its own electric power destiny. The City successfully negotiated to acquire a small power plant in south west Redding, now known as the Redding Power Plant. At the time, some vocal opponents of the power plant purchase challenged City leaders for what they considered to be a "foolish decision", citing the community did not need to generate its own power. In 1992, the Redding City Council made arguably one of the best decisions ever by approving the purchase of the small power plant.
State Assembly Bill 1890- Deregulated California’s electric utility industry; established new open market and customer choice for electricity. REU implemented a temporary 23% rate surcharge to pay down its debt, and enable REU to compete in the new open market. Energy service providers scrambled to gain market share, major investor-owned utilities raised prices, later filed for bankruptcy, a Governor was recalled, and much of the State faced “rolling blackouts”. This was a perilous time in California.
State Energy Crisis - Redding avoided “rolling blackouts” in 2002. The decision in 1992 to purchase the Redding Power Plant ensured Redding could meet its own power needs. REU added a 43 megawatt (MW) generator increasing local power production. Two years ahead of schedule, the City Council eliminated the 23% interim rate surcharge, dropping electric rates to 1996 levels. Businesses and residents alike lauded the City Council for its foresight and commitment to locally controlling Redding’s power needs. Redding was recognized as a “shining” light in an otherwise “darkened” State.
REU secured 26 MWs of wind energy at $60-$65/megawatt-hour. Today, the same wind energy costs nearly double.