I always wonder how many people read the notices in their PG&E bills. When I try to talk about this stuff to anybody outside my own family, I get one of two responses – 1) OMG! How do they get away with that? 2) Did you see the Giant’s game last night?
It’s hard to get people to talk about this stuff, aside from an occasional howling rant when they get their latest bill. I’ve talked about the tiered pricing – it’s so confusing. But the weird thing is, they change the billing from month to month. Every other month they use a method of billing that raises rates dramatically for the last week and a half of the month. They do this by lowering that base tier amount, the amount you are allowed before they start raising the rate – they cut it in half. So, you’re in Tier 2 twice as fast, and Tier 2 doesn’t amount to diddly, so you’re in Tier 3 before you can say “Turn off those GD lights!”. Your price per kilowatt hour has just gone up from .13 to .31, wham-bam-thank-you-ratepayer. You probably don’t use as much gas, but they use the same scam on the gas pricing, look at your bills.
I wonder how many people know about what their electric or gas usage is every month. I wonder how many people throw away their utility bills when they pay them. This is frustrating for me. It’s like trying to rile up a bowl of Jello.
This latest notice is really bad. They are eliminating Tiers 3 and 4, and want to “gradually merge Tiers 3 and 4 usage into Tier 2″. I’m guessing, they will raise Tier 2 from it’s current 15 cents to at least 25 or 30 cents. Wow. Tier 1 is not even enough for a family of three in an 800 sf apartment. This I know, because my family hasn’t been able to do itfor a couple of years now.
I save my bills for years – I wonder if anybody else does that. I have bills from both houses. I just got curious enough to look into my filing cabinet, I pulled out a bill from this apartment from 2010. I found they have systematically pushed my family out of Tier 1, all the while making us feel like pigs with charts that show not our usage but the increasing amount we pay.
In 2010, they were already using the weird billing, changing the baseline for that last week and a half. But, for that first three weeks, Tier 1 was 313.5 kwh at .11/kwh – compared to now – Tier 1 is currently 262..2 at .14/kwh. Looking over those bills, I see my family was well within Tier 1, right up until they cut it by about 50 kwh. That’s several days of our average daily usage.
Do you really believe we have an electricity shortage? You’ve got to be kidding, with all the options for producing energy these days? The problem is the market, the brokering, and our governments’ total negligence to it’s duty. The California Public Utilities Commission has been completely loaded with utility company shills, including CPUC President Michael Peavey, who is currently being investigated for inappropriate behavior in the aftermath of the San Bruno disaster.
The notice in my bill says there will be a public hearing over this proposal, along with a proposal to double the monthly service fee from $5 – $10. They’ve scheduled two sessions on October 9 at the Chico Holiday Inn, one at 2pm and another at 6:30. I don’t know if they will handle the proposals separately. It says there will be an administrative law judge present, possibly some CPUC members, and of course, PG&E reps to make sure to negate anything the ratepayers might have to say. Cal Water has a guy, Justin Scarb, whose job is just to go around putting the opposition in the trash can. I’m guessing PG&E has at least two reps for just that purpose.
The CPUC hearing in March 2013 for the Cal Water rate hike was a big joke. There was no administrative law judge, nor any members of the CPUC present. The man who presided explained to us that he was, in fact, “a judge,” but not a CPUC judge. He’d been asked to fill in for the CPUC ALJ who was “very fatigued from traveling to hearings up and down the state…” Wow, excuse me, Herr Emperor, while I get out some rose colored shades to shield my sensitive eyes from the nakedness of your puny junk.
Worse – the public was completely unprepared, just a pack of howling idiots, reminiscent of those two old guys on The Muppets. The first speaker was the only one who had something worthwhile to say – Ray Schimmel. A retired finance manager, he tried to explain the benefits and pension packages the utility employees get – “defined benefits, the Cadillac of coverage…” He explained, these packages come with a guarantee that no matter the financial shape the utility company or other public entity is in, those retirees get their benefits, no matter what.
As Schimmel tried to make his point, the judge interrupted him repeatedly to tell him he had to limit his comments to three minutes. Schimmel got frustrated and asked him to stop interrupting, and it went completely south from there, with some old shithead standing up from the audience to tell Schimmel to sit down, there were other people who wanted to “talk.” Of course, he meant, vomit launch, but he called it talking. The whole meeting went down the tubes and my family left.
Schimmel is right – these agencies have become nothing but salary/benefits/pension troughs. That’s why CARD laid people off to make a side-payment to CalPERS last year. The management salaries go up, the benefits and pensions get paid, no matter how they have to make lay-offs and scale back service.
You saw that with PG&E during a long power outage here in town about 5 years ago. Businesses all over town were hit – Spiteri’s Deli was closed for almost a week, with a cold case full of rotten meat. Thank goodness we were living in a house with a wood stove then – temps went into the 20’s, and PG&E was denying overtime. They had a mandate that trucks had to be back in the yard by 10pm, no matter where they had been sent. No night work, because PG&E didn’t want to pay overtime on their field employees – it might cut into their stockholder profits. We’ve heard that before Folks, they’ll screw us for money – think ENRON.
So, I don’t know how mad you are about this latest proposal to stick us, but I’m not showing up alone at that hearing, just to be handed a piece of crap in a Dixie cup and told to go home. If anybody’s interested in having an emergency Chico Taxpayers Association meeting at the library to discuss this and prepare some sort of comments, let me know at the “contact us here” button at the top of the page.
We can also send comments via snail mail or e-mail,or phone them in. I’d recommend jumping on that immediately, and writing a series of short notes, rather than some long blathering diatribe. Keep it simple, and they’re more guaranteed to read it. Here’s the contact info that I got from my notice – you got it too:
Mail: Public Advisor’s Office, 505 Van Ness Avenue,Room 2013, San Francisco, CA 94102
Phone: (toll free number) 1-866-849-8390
Don’t give in too fast – we were able to pare down Cal Water’s rate hike proposal from 38 to about 19 percent with protest letters, calls, and the actions of groups like Marysville for Reasonable Water Rates. We can fight PG&E. Now’s the time – they and the CPUC are under incredible pressure and negative publicity over the San Bruno disaster. The mayor of San Bruno is asking for CPUC president Peavey to be removed. Let’s jump on this dogpile folks, we might get something for ourselves.
Here’s my question: when will we get to see The Books? Where does this money go, if we aren’t guaranteed perfect service 24 hours a day 365 days a year? We pay premium prices – for what? Certainly not secure service. Pensions? Stock holders profits? We are supposed to be able to ask for the books on these utility companies. Cal Water told us in their rate hike proposal, of a million dollar local rate hike, only $168,000 was going into infrastructure projects, the rest was going into salaries, pensions and benefits. That’s what’s going on here, and we need to point that out. I think that’s what worked with Cal Water, but I’m just the piano player.