The Irvine City Council voted 4 to 1 early Wednesday to take the next steps toward setting up a municipal electric utility to power the future north end of the city.
Those steps include spending up to $369,000 on additional studies, applying for interconnection with Southern California Edison as a municipal utility and issuing a request for qualifications for contractors to handle day-to-day operations.
The dissenting vote was cast by council member Christina L. Shea, who said she is concerned about the city taking on costly and risky new projects in an uncertain economic climate.
The Irvine Co., which hopes to begin commercial and industrial development in the Northern Sphere this year, expressed concern about whether the municipal utility would be ready in time, about its reliability and about added costs it might incur.
But company Senior Vice President Michael Le Blanc stopped short of opposing the project, and he and city officials said they looked forward to working together on the issue.