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The California Public Utilities Commission today said that there will be an open meeting April 5 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. for San Diegans to state their opinions to commission officials about San Diego Gas & Electric's attempt to get customers to pay for the uninsured costs of the 2007 wildfires, as well as future fires.

The meeting will be at the Al Bahr Shrine Auditorium, 5440 Kearny Mesa Road. The session could extend another day, according to public utilities commissioner Timothy Simon at an all-party meeting today (Feb. 23) in San Francisco. Several groups, particularly Ramona's Mussey Grade Road Alliance, have been pressing for such a meeting at which Simon and/or the administrative law judge on the case would hear from the public.

A number of groups spoke against SDGE's plan to pass these costs to ratepayers, and not to shareholders. Attorney Mike Aguirre noted that regulators have found SDGE negligent in the 2007 fires, and mismanagement costs should be borne by shareholders.

The current estimate of these costs for 2007 fires alone comes to more than $350 per SDGE billpayer, and costs of future fires would represent a blank check. At the hearing, various groups, including the utility commission's Consumer Protection & Safety Division and Division of Ratepayer Advocates, strongly opposed SDGE's attempt to shift costs to ratepayers.

"This utility proposal does nothing for ratepayers and only protects shareholders," said a representative of the protection and safety division. "No [SDGE] financial burden has been demonstrated," said a representative of the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, noting, as did other opponents, that "this sets a bad precedent."

It's a question of moral hazard, said Diane Conklin of the Mussey group. If the company is indemnified, it will not work to make sure its lines will not start fires. Aguirre wanted Simon to be disqualified because of his close relationships with SDGE, but the San Diego lawyer was told that such a complaint must be filed in writing.

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Comments

Visduh Feb. 24, 2012 @ 9:01 a.m.

OK, so there's a hearing and the opponents state all their well-reasoned arguments for denying the SDGE proposal. What then? Does this hearing guarantee that the opponents will have been heard (as in their reasoning was taken into account)? I suppose that with no hearing, the commission could just go ahead and accept the proposal, using the excuse that nobody stated any opposition. What this does among other things is get the mess out in the public eye--if the media report on it. (Well, actually, the Manchester Mill did a piece on this hearing today.) So, this hearing may be the first "baby step" in the direction of having the proposal rejected.

If Simon indeed has a close relationship with SDGE, he should routinely recuse himself from any/all actions that involve that utility (and So Cal Gas, also part of Sempra.) Why is that not happening? In fact, no commissioner should have a close relationship with any of the utilities so regulated, and if one does, should resign forthwith.

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Don Bauder Feb. 24, 2012 @ 11:10 a.m.

Attorney Mike Aguirre has shown that Simon dined several times at fancy restaurants with SDGE people who are important in this matter. Aguirre is also critical of Simon's lauding a SDGE bond offering last summer. Best, Don Bauder

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Badhand Feb. 24, 2012 @ 9:53 a.m.

What are Simon's close relationships with SDG&E? Has he ever received money from them?

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Don Bauder Feb. 24, 2012 @ 11:13 a.m.

Two questionable things, as above: Simon was wined and dined at fancy restaurants here and abroad with SDGE brass involved in this matter. Also, he went out of his way to laud a bond offering by SDGE last summer, mainly because SDGE used a minority brokerage house to sell some of the bonds. Simon is African-American. Best, Don Bauder

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mridolf Feb. 24, 2012 @ 12:26 p.m.

Let's see now. The night of April 5th, Easter week, the night before Good Friday. Hmmm, good choice for a day when a majority of the working populace will be elsewhere, or making plans to be elsewhere. And it may 'extend' into Good Friday? What the heck, just schedule the meeting on Easter Sunday.

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Don Bauder Feb. 24, 2012 @ 2:25 p.m.

Y'know, I hadn't thought of that. Thanks for waking me up. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 24, 2012 @ 5:23 p.m.

S T R A T E G Y. You gotta BEAT THEM at it!

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Don Bauder Feb. 25, 2012 @ 6:56 a.m.

Absolutely, Twister: beat them. The CPUC prefers to operate in the dark, secreting decisions in indecipherable prose and industry patois. It's time San Diegans told them a thing or two in street verbiage. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 24, 2012 @ 2:22 p.m.

Lots of good observations. Of lots of manipulations.

My suggestion is to:

  1. Go in en masse and take out speaker slips. Consolidate the time and appoint one speaker (most knowledgeable, best speaker) and/or coordinate the remarks so that questions cannot be evaded. Keep it simple, but complete. "As simple as possible, but no simpler," as Einstein would say. Be bold and unafraid.

  2. WALK OUT when dissed (you will be patronized), and assemble a "Citizens in Exile" protest outside. Be prepared with signs, even costumes--anything to get media attention. Give the media present a press release covering your comments, with well-referenced back-up facts.

  3. "Hit" them hard, hit them fast, hit them frequently, but don't stick around to be manipulated. Follow-up later. Never give up and go home, just go home. In brevity lies the soul of wit.

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Don Bauder Feb. 24, 2012 @ 2:29 p.m.

It sounds like you speak from experience, Twister. It is essential that San Diegans show up en masse. This scam will be approved unless the public raises hell. The sum of $350 plus an open checkbook for the future should stimulate some people to protest. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 24, 2012 @ 5:21 p.m.

Oh, I forgot. DON'T "send" (certainly do not email, but give your callback number and email address) press releases--press them into the hot little hands of those who show up. Telephone the specific reporter(s) that you think will do the best job (or the one who can convince the news director that the gig MUST be covered), implying, but not promising, the she/he will tend to be favored with exclusives in the future.

Media entities that can't seem to get it right or twist it all out of recognition should be quietly shunned (but don't tell them so). Call the media just before the meeting--no more than an hour or so. This gives it the immediacy of "breaking news."

DO NOT, above all, fall into the trap of just going to the meeting to spout off on your own--that's playing into the scheme. It allows them to divide and conquer.

You're up against some pretty crafty lawyer-sobs who make big money shinin' y'all on. BEAT them at their own game. STUDY their habits. ANTICIPATE their EVERY move, and use their momentum against them. Run steady, run deep. Silent until your torpedo explodes. ANYTHING else will cause you to LOSE. But you don't HAVE to lose. They are babuffons and paper-tigers who can't hit a bull in the ass with a snow-shovel.

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Don Bauder Feb. 25, 2012 @ 8:47 a.m.

Good points, Twister. Protesters should stress several things: 1. SDGE already has the highest rates in the country; 2. According to parent Sempra's recent annual report, Sempra shareholders enjoyed a 208% rise over 10 years while the average utility stock was going up 8%; despite the high prices and moderate incomes of San Diego residents, SDGE/Sempra only care about shareholders and do NOT care a whit about customers; 3. There is sound evidence that SDGE and CPUC secretly made a deal before the subject came up officially. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 25, 2012 @ 8:42 p.m.

Yes, and have back-up references (actual copies) ready to read from AND hand out--at least to the press (but let the CPUC and staff re-run their tapes).

Again, TAKE CARE OF THE REPORTERS! They will magnify your comments. If they distort them, make THAT news!

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Don Bauder Feb. 26, 2012 @ 12:17 p.m.

Twister, when you say "Take care of the reporters," are you suggesting that they be murdered or mollycoddled? I'm sensitive to such things, obviously. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 26, 2012 @ 12:45 p.m.

I don't make or take inferences worth a damn. Certainly not murdered. Irony, yes, even sarcasm. But not anything physical. Just comfort for the afflicted and afflicting the excessively pampered.

Mollycoddled, no. But treasure the ones like Don Bauder, and support them to the max.

But reporters that distort the news should be exposed for the dissemblers they are, and written up by their colleagues with even more vigor than some poor devil who just screwed up a time or two. Unfortunately, San Diego seems to harbor an unreal population of this latter type, especially as TV "anchors."

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Twister Feb. 25, 2012 @ 8:50 p.m.

Yes, yes, YES!

KEEP IT SIMPLE!!!

Discourage blathering on and on--even for only two minutes.

And, oh, yes, PHOTOGRAPHY! Get pix of the commissars picking their noses and otherwise looking bored . . . which the arrogant mfrs WILL do. Get a TEAM of people in the front row to fire their cell phones at will, right into the whites of their eyes.

Post, post, POST!

But most of all, don't let up the PRESSURE. They think they can out last you. Don't give them the satisfaction!

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Don Bauder Feb. 26, 2012 @ 12:21 p.m.

To me, the abbreviation "mfrs" means "manufacturers." But in the context in which you use it, and given that CPUC commissioners can hardly be called manufacturers (other than of lies), I wonder if it has another meaning. Help an old, naive man. But please don't spell out that precise meaning for us in a post, just in case. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Feb. 26, 2012 @ 12:49 p.m.

Hence the abbrev.

twister

PS: If you don't stop incinerating that I am old, I'm gonna grab you by the nose and twist it hard. Ain't you heard? Seventy-somethings is the new fifty-somethings.

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Don Bauder Feb. 26, 2012 @ 5:26 p.m.

Yeah, Twister, my cardiologist keeps telling me that. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 27, 2012 @ 6:37 a.m.

Your cardiologist trying to poison you? Is he making you drink something that tastes a bit like arsenic? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Feb. 27, 2012 @ 8:14 p.m.

It's something he will tell you that you have to swallow before taking some kind of invasive test. Best, Don Bauder

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