Dock Ellis 3:59 p.m., Nov. 18
UCAN Joins Fight Against Utility's Treatment of Customers
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