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Utility Consumers' Action Network, local utility watchdog, has filed a complaint with the California Public Utilities Commission against San Diego Gas & Electric's attempt to pass uninsured costs of the 2007 wildfires and future fires to ratepayers, instead of to shareholders.

Attorney Mike Aguirre and Ramona's Mussey Grade Alliance have been battling SDGE's planned customer-fleecing, which Aguirre has shown was almost certainly the result of a secret meeting between commissioners and the company.

This has been traced in Reader News Ticker items under my name on Jan. 17, 24, 26, 28, and Feb. 15, along with a column Feb. 15. Most recent filings by Aguirre and Mussey are appended to the Feb. 15 column.

"Aguirre has made strong points on the possibility of collusion," says David Peffer, the consumers' network attorney. "We're trying to stop this from happening." Already, "San Diego ratepayers pay the highest rates in the country," says Peffer. (See chart of stock performance of Sempra vs. other utilities on News Ticker and my column of Feb. 15.)

"This is absolutely unconscionable." SDG&E clams that increasing the safety of lines and buying more insurance "does not pass a cost-benefit analysis test," so the utility wants to pass the cost to ratepayers. "They say [picking up the costs] would damage their financial health." Shareholders? SDG&E was found negligent in the 2007 fires.

Yet shareholders get to escape, although the stock of Sempra, SDG&E's parent, soared 208% from 2000 to 2010, while the average utility stock edged up 8% over the period. Those aren't my numbers: they are Sempra's, from its 2010 annual report

Pictured: David Peffer

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Comments

Founder Feb. 20, 2012 @ 10:34 a.m.

Great news for everyone that is not a shareholder in SDG&E! + How do we increase Solar usage nation wide in the shortest amount of time:

Or What Is Holding America Back?

http://www.grist.org/solar-power/2011-08-08-clever-accounting-lets-utilities-cash-in-when-you-go-solar

The Utilities want to maximize the profits for the shareholders and so they donate to Candidates to get them to support traditional Energy Production, which does not include anything but a token amount of Solar... We are being "forced" to accept their Energy "mix", instead of using our own and being fairly paid for the Energy we produce and push INTO the grid!!

When The Energy Utilities pay each of us for the energy we put into the grid, at the same rate that the Utility charges for that same energy someone else uses at that exact time, then you will see Solar being installed Nation wide!

Because Solar is generated during the daytime, it is the most valuable since the Utilities charge the most for daytime usage (where they have SMART metering)! Everyone pays an additional amount to support the infrastructure (The Grid) so that when the Energy Utilities begin to pay the same as what they charge (no pun intended), then it will make adding Solar panels a no brainer, since the payback period will be much shorter. Another benefit for all of us is that during a power outage, all the small solar panel producers can help to keep power flowing which will be a huge benefit during such times as hurricane, tornadoes and flooding!

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Founder Feb. 20, 2012 @ 10:54 a.m.

Sorry for the non working link, please try this one: http://is.gd/eQog1d

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Don Bauder Feb. 20, 2012 @ 11:28 a.m.

Very interesting article, Founder. The utilities, colluding with their regulators, have found ways to pile up profits from solar. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Feb. 20, 2012 @ 3:49 p.m.

Add to the colluding all the connected people that support the Leaders that are supposed to appoint or elect and monitor those very same regulators...

In short it is a vicious cycle:

A. The well connected working to support "their" Candidates...

B. Candidates, now Leaders passing "helpful" policies ... (think political payback) those that elected them.

C. Those that want access to Leaders must "play their game"...

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Don Bauder Feb. 20, 2012 @ 6:33 p.m.

You can add D. Court, particularly the Supreme Court, encouraging the crooked games to go on. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 20, 2012 @ 11:20 a.m.

Solar (on individual homes, not imported) is certainly the answer in San Diego County. There is lots of sun, sky-high utility rates, and an arrogant utility management that has alienated and outraged customers, and seems intent on escalating its bullying. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Feb. 20, 2012 @ 10:52 a.m.

How many reading this article are saying to themselves, Enough is Enough?

Why is it that SDG&E Shareholders can continue to make huge profits but rate payers are supposed to accept all "loses" by SDG&E?

What is wrong with that picture? Do you hear the "R-R-R-R-Rip Off" sound?

Our elected Leaders need to start putting the Public Good ahead of what is good for SDG&E shareholders of these BIG Donors that donate to these same Politicos that provide SDG&E Oversight! Until that happens, ALL rate holders will continue to get "Shorted" by SDG&E...

Please write Governor Brown and urge him to revamp the California Public Utilities Commission: (866) 849-8390, so we will not continue to get ripped off by our own Public Utility which is being "run" like the monopoly it is...

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Don Bauder Feb. 20, 2012 @ 11:31 a.m.

Your thesis is correct, Founder. What SDGE is doing is a classic case of corporate socialism -- privatization of the gain and socialization of the risk. It is time for utility shareholders to carry the burden of mismanagement at the top of companies whose stock the buy. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Feb. 20, 2012 @ 3:42 p.m.

Yes, I agree and we can see signs of very same thing at City Hall and even the State and Federal level and in every major Project paid for with City, State or Federal money!

The Political "fix" is in and until there are MAJOR changes in the way our Leaders are chosen and how they collect donations, we will see much more of the same thing, especially since the SCOTUS changed one man one vote to one dollar one vote!

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Don Bauder Feb. 20, 2012 @ 6:35 p.m.

True, but it's really one hundred thousand dollars, one vote. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Feb. 20, 2012 @ 7:11 p.m.

Founder, there were many people saying "enough is enough" in the late 70's and early 80's. Yet, what came of it? Not much at all. We have been overpaying for electricity to SDGE for decades, and without some drastic action that will not change. No matter who has been our state governor, the CPUC has had a consistent pro-utility bias. Don't forget that the green folks have encouraged economic disincentives for those who are heavy energy users. Have a swimming pool? "Green" doesn't like you. Use a lot of A/C? Same thing. There is an unholy alliance between those who would see us consume less energy and the money-hungry utility companies who want to soak us all.

Solar should be one big answer to this alliance. Who cannot love solar? If you are SDGE, you should welcome it as a way to reduce strain on the power grid and help you out when the load is the highest, i.e. summer afternoons. If you don't like the idea of burning oil, coal, or natural gas to make electricity just so you can sit comfortably in your sealed-up office on a hot day, solar is the answer. Then, why is SDGE trying to make investment in rooftop solar panels a loser? That is the question, and it has to do with power--not electrical power--to pick your pocket going and coming for electrical power.

Follow the money and the influence.

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Don Bauder Feb. 20, 2012 @ 9:48 p.m.

I can't argue with a thing you say, Visduh. SDGE has been scamming us for decades. Sempra is devoted to running up its stock and granting very hefty pay and retirement benefits to its top brass. Period. It has never cared much about customers. When two regulatory bodies said SDGE negligence was a major factor in the 2007 fires, the company at first refused to give information to investigators, then fought the findings. It could have spent the money doing something about its faulty lines and practices. It is high time this arrogant company heard from the San Diego public. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 21, 2012 @ 6:57 a.m.

"Public" utilities, my a$$. Power companies. Honk, honk!

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Don Bauder Feb. 21, 2012 @ 7:10 a.m.

You are right, Twister. "Public utilities" has become a euphemism, and nowhere is this more true than in San Diego. Ditto for California PUBLIC Utilities Commission. If only the commission gave a damn about the public. The public has just become a vehicle for boosting the common stocks of utilities. Soak the public, satisfy Wall Street is the shibboleth today. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 21, 2012 @ 4:07 p.m.

Extending the trend is the mission of SDGE in collusion with CPUC. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Feb. 23, 2012 @ 10:28 a.m.

It is starting to look like we are being told that out utility really supports going green , yet in reality they are doing it in such a manner that is really just tokenism, while the Utility just further cements it's strangle hold on all it's rate payers while demanding ever more money for energy!

In reality they should change their name to $DG&E...

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Don Bauder Feb. 23, 2012 @ 12:52 p.m.

Wall Street appears to think SDGE will get away with forcing customers to pick up uninsured fire costs from 2007 and into the future. Sempra stock was $55.42 on Jan. 13, when the three-day hearings ended in San Francisco. The stock has moved up since then to $57.70, although the overall market was up during that period and it's down almost 1% today. Best, Don Bauder

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Founder Feb. 23, 2012 @ 4:52 p.m.

KUDOS It is a joy to be able to actually leave comments, ... and read your replies!

Sempra is out for $EMPRA and until everyone in CA understands that and demands Political change ... We are all doomed to ever more rate increases...

Now even our Water is being "sold" as a vanishing ... resource, which bye the way is also going up in cost!

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Don Bauder Feb. 23, 2012 @ 6:58 p.m.

At the same time SDGE is seeking to foist the cost of its negligence on its customers instead of on its shareholders, the company is also seeking a general rate case increase. San Diegans MUST turn out for those meetings in April. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 23, 2012 @ 9:29 p.m.

Is UCAN a fifth column outfit? What about Shames?

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Don Bauder Feb. 26, 2012 @ 12:26 p.m.

Check my recent columns and blog posts on Shames by going to the Reader search box. UCAN's internal situation is quite interesting. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 26, 2012 @ 12:53 p.m.

I searched: Bauder Shames. I got this:

Message: A server error has occurred. Description: Check server response code in details. Details: 500

I don' know nuthin' 'bout code . . .

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Don Bauder Feb. 26, 2012 @ 7:24 p.m.

Try bauder + shames. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 26, 2012 @ 12:28 p.m.

San Diego is ideally suited for solar energy use. But SDGE is determined to frustrate customers who would like to use it. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Feb. 26, 2012 @ 4:15 p.m.

I wouldn't say that SD is ideally suited. According to NOAA data, SD receives only about 68% of available sunlight, based on about 60 yrs of data. That's about average for most of most of southern cal and is in the range of most of the southern US, excluding the desert southwest. The areas best suited run across the deserts from Cal thru Az and NM and into Texas. The central valley is also well suited, getting about 10% more sunshine than SD. Not surprising, considering the amount of agro there. According to the NOAA date, the best place in the country foor solar, in terms of amount of sunlight, is the Yuma area with about 90%.

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Founder Feb. 26, 2012 @ 4:20 p.m.

Nice reply! Seen this chart: AREA Required for Solar http://is.gd/oYgd5d

or this California's biggest energy utility announced a deal Monday to purchase 200 megawatts of electricity from a startup company that plans to beam the power down to Earth from outer space, beginning in 2016. http://is.gd/oYgd5d

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tomjohnston Feb. 26, 2012 @ 6:08 p.m.

Yeah, I'm familiar with SCE. You should try downloading their field guide for renewable energy technologies. It makes good bedtime reading. As for the PG&E deal, well let's just say I'm in the camp that considers the agreement a public-relations maneuver to show that the utility is attempting to meet its mandate to use renewable energy. Solaren never raised the money, $1billion. They said they were going to be launching their first satellites in 2011 and 2012. As far as I am aware, there have been no launches, and in fact no contracts awarded to build. Color me a non believer in Solaren's claims.

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Founder Feb. 26, 2012 @ 6:35 p.m.

Sadly that is what I'm now thinking also!

I think the correct word is "canard," as in meant to fail in order to promote yet more Nuclear which is a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster RISK for California!

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Twister Feb. 26, 2012 @ 6:44 p.m.

If it looks like a canard, walks like a canard, and quackeries like a canard, it just might be an ()gly #()ck!ng du@k!!ng!

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Don Bauder Feb. 26, 2012 @ 7:30 p.m.

Twister, you mean that if it looks, walks and quacks like a canard, it is probably not a canary? Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 26, 2012 @ 10 p.m.

Up on the bar, Don, and give us a song!

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Don Bauder Feb. 27, 2012 @ 6:44 a.m.

I know lawyers who never passed the bar and I know some who never passed a bar. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 27, 2012 @ 6:45 a.m.

Strutting like a P-crock? Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Feb. 26, 2012 @ 8:35 p.m.

I don't know about it being meant to fail. It was a no lose proposition for PG&E, which is why I think it was done for the PR. And I highly doubt it was done in order to promote more nuclear energy. Section 25524.1(b) of the California Public Resources Code prohibits the building of any nuclear fission thermal powerplant requiring the reprocessing of fuel rods until (paraphrasing)the CEC finds the federal gov't has approved a demonstrated technology or means for the permanent and terminal disposal of high-level nuclear wastes. Put simply, until the feds have a way of disposing nuclear waste, no new plants in Ca. The ban could be repealed by the Legislature, or through a ballot initiative,neither of which is likely any time soon. Every attempt in the Legislature has been killed and nothing has been close to getting on the ballot for a vote. I doubt any of the utilities would waste the time effort and money to even bother, especially considering the opposition they're getting just to relicense the existing reactors. Nope, no more nukes in Ca anytime soon, at least probably not in my lifetime.

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Don Bauder Feb. 27, 2012 @ 6:46 a.m.

You are correct: there has to be a way to dispose of nuclear waste. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 26, 2012 @ 7:28 p.m.

Last I heard, which was more than a year ago, PGE and SCE were ahead of SDGE in adapting renewable energy. But that may have changed. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Feb. 26, 2012 @ 8:43 p.m.

The goal was 20% by 2010. SCE had a little over 19%, and PG&E had almost 18% but SDGE is lagging big time, less than 12%. That said California by far has the most grid connected PV capacity, almost 1/2 of the US total.

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Twister Feb. 26, 2012 @ 6:47 p.m.

How does San Diego compare to Germany? Are they stoopid?

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Don Bauder Feb. 26, 2012 @ 7:26 p.m.

I'm sure San Diego is more suited to solar than gray Germany. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Feb. 27, 2012 @ 7:45 a.m.

Obviously, the climate in SD is more suited for solar PV use than is Germany. However, you might be interested to know that according to the EPIA, in 2011 Germany had the largest installed PV capacity in the EU, about 24.7K mw. That is around 70% of the entire amount of solar pv in the EU and it also represents about 20% of Germany's power usage. And I believe the overall cost of electricity has been reduced as well, even to non PV customers. It seems that Germany has less to work with, yet they still do a better job. What was it Tom Devoe said, "if you want things done, put a German on it."

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Don Bauder Feb. 26, 2012 @ 7:20 p.m.

Sounds like San Diego is well suited for solar, not necessarily ideally suited. I would think parts of the back country and places such as Borrego Springs may be ideally suited. Best, Don Bauder

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Ruth Newell Feb. 26, 2012 @ 8:11 p.m.

Ideally suited? Virgin back country versus, oh say, the miles and miles of existing commercial rooftops here in the city? Directly on top of the San Andreas Fault?Really? I'm a gonna beg to differ with you on that one, DB.

SDG&E's a Sempra subsidiary,one of the country's corporate mega-monster who just happens to be in business with Petróleos Mexicanos--so much for relieving ourselves of foreign fuel dependency. Ethically, I've got some issue with some of their choices.

I've lonnnng been in favor of solar energy. With most of the patents held by the oil mongols, don't know how we ever expect it to be affordable--truly. Here's a question though:IF we could generate electricity AND fuel from solid waste which was not contingent upon the weather--at its source-- for a fraction of the cost of other renewables and with significantly less carbon footprint--would we, the public, fabricate some resistance to that technology or would we scramble to buy up shares? Just asking.

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Don Bauder Feb. 27, 2012 @ 6:41 a.m.

Those who plunk money into startups and also rush into IPOs are unlikely to care about anything except their expected return on investment. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Feb. 27, 2012 @ 7:14 a.m.

Mr. Bauder, as I recall, don't you have a good portion of your retirement funds invested in stocks, something around 40%? And didn't you recently say you were going to be buying more , I think you said because of the way the Fed is pumping things up? Surely you can't expect us to believe that with that much of your retirement in the market, with more to come, that you don't expect a good return on your investment. In fact, haven't you said something to the effect that you ONLY invest in stocks that have a good return?

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Don Bauder Feb. 28, 2012 @ 8:20 a.m.

I have 31% of my financial assets in stocks, almost all the rest in bonds and almost nothing in cash. Reason: the Federal Reserve, in keeping short rates near zero and driving long rates to record lows, is trying to run up the stock market, although it insists it is trying to help the economy. The only way you can get income is through common stocks that yield 3.5% to even 8% or so. This means that about 80% of that 31% is in utilities, but I also have some blue chip pharmaceuticals, oils, and consumer staples that were yielding generally at least 4% when I bought them. The Fed's strategy is copied by other central banks around the world. The U.S. suffered the worst economic decline and weakest recovery therefrom since the Great Depression. Yet stocks have doubled since 2009. Why? The main reason is the liquidity created by central banks, particularly the Fed. This will end unpleasantly some day -- as in 2008 -- but I can't predict when. The stock market is more closely related to liquidity than it is to the economy. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston Feb. 28, 2012 @ 9:15 a.m.

I didn't detect a direct answer in there, but if I can decipher what you said, then it appears the answer to the question is yes, you buy stocks based on an expectation of a good roi. So given that, what else is it that you consider, what other factor would stop you from buying something that has a good return and is within your budgetary/risk constraints? By way of disclosure, let me say this. We have been invested in the market for quite awhile, about 35 yrs, give or take. I would say the 2 things we have always looked at are what kind of return are we going to get and the longevity of the investment. We have always tried to invest in stocks that would give us good returns over a long period of time. I'm just uncertain as to what other considerations you think would override those things. Maybe it's just my market naivety, but anything else would seem to be counterintuitive.

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Don Bauder Feb. 28, 2012 @ 6:48 p.m.

One constraint, only relevant to me, is that I won't invest in anything based in San Diego -- stock, bond, whatever. This is obvious: for ethical reasons, I can't invest in an asset whose price I might be able to affect. Generally, as I said, I invest in blue chip stocks yielding at least 4%, sometimes slightly less. Occasionally I speculate in a high-yielding stock or bond, but not very often. You said I like roi. Of course. Everybody does. But if you get a good dividend and have reason to believe it will not be suspended, you are part of the way there. That's why I like dividend-paying stocks. We don't spend those returns (we may have to some day) but I think that over a long period of time, one is better off buying blue chip stocks with good dividends. Best, Don Bauder

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