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San Diego wins one

CPUC thumbs down SDGE's attempt to get customers to pay 2007 fire costs

Quick action by irate San Diegans was almost certainly a factor in today's (Dec. 20) decision by the commissioners of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to turn down San Diego Gas & Electric's attempt to get ratepayers to cough up for uninsured costs of the 2007 fires, for which the local utility has been held responsible. On Sunday, Diane Conklin of Mussey Grade Road Alliance discovered that the CPUC has a subscription list, supposedly for minor changes in documents. She signed up. So yesterday, she learned that Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon, the day before the hearing had made a huge but cleverly concealed change in his proposal that permitted SDGE to get customers to pay for the uninsured 2007 costs. She quickly complained; Mike Aguirre, who was also fighting the proposal, stated last night, as reported on this blog, that this action was a blatant violation of the Brown Act, which mandates open meetings. All hell broke loose in San Diego media today (Dec. 20), following the Reader's coverage last night and a press conference today by Utility Consumers' Action Network and Aguirre. Many media covered the story and the CPUC was besieged with telephone calls, at Conklin's urging.

At today's meeting, Simon was forced to withdraw his altered motion because of Brown Act violations. Then the commissioners voted unanimously to turn down SDGE's bid, and stated that for the utility to recover its funds under the so-called Z factor -- a procedure to handle unanticipated events -- San Diego Gas would have to show it had no responsibility for the fires. But a division of the CPUC has already ruled that SDGE was responsible for those fires.

SDGE's parent, Sempra Energy, has been telling shareholders that it expected ratepayers would be forced to pick up the tab for the uninsured costs.

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Quick action by irate San Diegans was almost certainly a factor in today's (Dec. 20) decision by the commissioners of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to turn down San Diego Gas & Electric's attempt to get ratepayers to cough up for uninsured costs of the 2007 fires, for which the local utility has been held responsible. On Sunday, Diane Conklin of Mussey Grade Road Alliance discovered that the CPUC has a subscription list, supposedly for minor changes in documents. She signed up. So yesterday, she learned that Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon, the day before the hearing had made a huge but cleverly concealed change in his proposal that permitted SDGE to get customers to pay for the uninsured 2007 costs. She quickly complained; Mike Aguirre, who was also fighting the proposal, stated last night, as reported on this blog, that this action was a blatant violation of the Brown Act, which mandates open meetings. All hell broke loose in San Diego media today (Dec. 20), following the Reader's coverage last night and a press conference today by Utility Consumers' Action Network and Aguirre. Many media covered the story and the CPUC was besieged with telephone calls, at Conklin's urging.

At today's meeting, Simon was forced to withdraw his altered motion because of Brown Act violations. Then the commissioners voted unanimously to turn down SDGE's bid, and stated that for the utility to recover its funds under the so-called Z factor -- a procedure to handle unanticipated events -- San Diego Gas would have to show it had no responsibility for the fires. But a division of the CPUC has already ruled that SDGE was responsible for those fires.

SDGE's parent, Sempra Energy, has been telling shareholders that it expected ratepayers would be forced to pick up the tab for the uninsured costs.

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Comments
12

Great fight Don, thank you. Now it's time for Brown to do roto-rooting at the CPUC.

And while Brown is at it, now that we gave him super majorities in the legislature, it's also time to roto-rooter UC regents and administrators to end their Ivory Tower establishment that rapes California families with students eligible to attend UC but can no longer afford it due to Ivory Tower incompetence and corruption that does things like wasting $321MILLION on a football field at Berkeley this year when they don't even have a team that is better than second from the bottom of the PAC 12, and hiring out of state administrators for insanely high salaries and benefits because UC can't produce California graduates that are eligible for the job. The era of tenure has destroyed college education opportunities for increasingly out of control numbers of California students who worked their butts off in high school to quality for.

With his new super majorities It's time for Brown to overhaul California government in 2013 to meet the needs of voters, ratepayers, families and students once again as their highest priority, time to restore California to its preeminent position as the greatest state in the union once again.

Dec. 20, 2012

P.S. It's time to continue the social networking revolution that reelected Obama and overthrow the power of money establishment elite that controlled far too many minds that voted for Romney due to fear and hate propaganda like Manchester published such as the racist "2016: Obama's America" full page aditorials.

Brown should use the new age of social networking like Obama did, to end the era of oligarchs that have destroyed so many democracies before ours.

Dec. 20, 2012

Anon: Obama used the Internet and other electronic platforms much more effectively than Romney did. That was definitely one of the keys to Obama's reelection. I wish I could say the oligarchs are headed out the door but, unfortunately, I can't say that. Best, Don Bauder

Dec. 20, 2012

Obama used the Internet and other electronic platforms much more effectively than Romney did

Obama has used social media in ways no one thought possible.......he did it 4 years ago and this time around.......anyone running for president in 2016 needs to copy exactly what he did if they want to win.

Dec. 20, 2012

SP: Agreed. In 2016, candidates will have to emulate -- indeed, improve upon -- Obama's use of electronic platforms in 2008 and 2012. Best, Don Bauder

Dec. 20, 2012

Anon: Today, Brown-appointed CPUC commissioners outmaneuvered the two pro-utility, anti-consumer commissioners (Simon and Peevey). Many of us have been waiting for the new commissioners to overthrow the corrupt ones. This appears to be a step in the right direction. Maybe UC-Berkeley will be just as lucky: some honest leaders will rise out of the muck. Best, Don Bauder

Dec. 20, 2012

It's about damn time the 3 mouseketeers finally did something. Almost 2 years into their terms is quite long enough to show some balls. That said, time will tell if this is a portent of things to come or only a one off because one of their own got caught with his hand in the cookie jar, so to speak.

Dec. 20, 2012

tomjohnston: Agreed. I, too, thought there would be reform at the CPUC in fairly short order. But we have waited a long time. Best, Don Bauder

Dec. 20, 2012

Keep the good news coming Don, hopefully the good will overwhelm the bad before it becomes an impossible dream.

After the 2012 elections I'm placing all my bets on the younger generations and their use of social media to continue their fight for their own future, an advantage that humans have never had since Ancient Athens to end the era of oligarch tyranny over the human race.

Our local tyrant Manchester keeps reminding me of scenarios in Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" and he is the greatest threat to the future of San Diego today.

Dec. 21, 2012

Anon: You are more optimistic about the good overwhelming the bad than I am. Example: yesterday, San Diego won a round against its sticky-fingered utility, San Diego Gas & Electric. The attempt by one commissioner and SDGE to get ratepayers to cough up for uninsured 2007 fire costs was completely clandestine. This time it was thwarted. But there will be another clandestine move; you can be sure of that. That's why San Diegans should be pondering ways to wound SDGE now, before the next secret maneuver comes. Best, Don Bauder

Dec. 21, 2012

Based on a perusal of the story in today's Manchester Mill, this does not end the matter for all time. SDGE may rise and fight again, and until the door is slammed shut and triple-locked, will continue its quest. If the opponents let down their guard and stop watching everything SDGE files with the CPUC, this could be slipped in again.

Wall Street has not reacted as we might expect. Sempra stock is down a piddling 10 cents a share today, doing better than the market averages overall. Does WS know something we don't know? All this makes me think that the fight is not over. And Sempra top management will look like total fools if this denial of recovery sticks.

Dec. 21, 2012

Visduh: That is correct. The fight is not over, although if SDGE tries to use the Z factor, it would have to show that it was not responsible for the 2007 fires, and a CPUC division already pinned the blame on it. However, currently, the top commissioner, Peevey, sits smugly in the utilities' overstuffed pockets. Simon will be off the commission. Will the remaining three turn the bias of the commission toward the consumer? Let's hope so. But your point is well taken: SDGE will continue to work surreptitiously to screw its own customers, and could sneak this through when no one is looking. And believe me, watching the CPUC is no picnic; everything is written in bureaucratese, and matters are secretly put up to vote, as Simon attempted to do yesterday with the 2007 fire coverage. The CPUC is the very model of deliberate opacity. If SDGE secretly gets this one through, then San Diegans should dedicate themselves to wounding the utility in every legal way possible. Best, Don Bauder

Dec. 21, 2012

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