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PG&E seeks to charge ratepayers for fire fees

28 Oct

From the San Jose Mercury News:

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/10/26/pge-pushes-for-ratepayers-to-pay-millions-in-california-wildfire-costs/

In a 30-minute meeting on Oct. 17, Meredith Allen, PG&E’s senior director of regulatory relations, told Travis Foss, an adviser to PUC Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen, that PG&E and other California utilities are in “an untenable situation,” according to a record of the meeting that PG&E sent to the PUC as required under state lobbying rules. PG&E should not have to pay “a disproportionate” share of the costs of wildfires because of the growing risk and a tough insurance market, Allen argued.

The utility companies want ratepayers to pay instead of their shareholders.

A share of PG&E stock is worth about $57 today, having reached a three year high of $70.63 a share just last month. Then the wildfires hit, and PG&E was found liable. 

http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/PG-E-cited-for-late-maintenance-work-more-often-12303697.php

California regulators auditing Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s work in the field cited the company for late repairs and maintenance jobs far more frequently than any other electric utility in the state, according to documents made public in the wake of this month’s deadly Wine Country fires.

This isn’t the first time PG&E has been found to be negligent of their infrastructure. Up in the hills that means dead trees standing right under and alongside power lines, here in Chico it also means un-maintained gas lines. 

http://www.krcrtv.com/news/pge-emergency-repairs-underway-for-gas-leak-in-chico-dam/11441480

“Emergency repairs” for a leak they’d known about for a year?  Read this recent article from CNBC –  look at all the fires that have been caused by PG&E negligence, and the bills PG&E has received.

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/13/pge-plunges-on-concern-its-power-lines-may-have-started-california-wildfires.html

Shareholders got nervous, causing the stock price to “plummet” to $57.  But, shares have risen steadily despite the “plummets”, worth $10 more than they were in 2013. Why are shareholders nervous? Because they’re afraid they will have to pay.

Of course, in the San Bruno deal shareholders were awarded $90 million? This article is confusing:

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/04/21/court-oks-90-million-pge-san-bruno-explosion-settlement/

Why do we allow utilities to be publicly traded for profit? That seems to be the whole problem, one court declaring PG&E “placed profits ahead of safety…” the San Bruno disaster having been caused by ” a combination of PG&E’s shoddy maintenance, flawed record-keeping and the PUC’s lazy oversight, according to an official investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.”

The utility companies should be run strictly for the benefit of the ratepayers. 

Recently I heard from a group in Silicon Valley that has “united in supporting non-partisan, bi-partisan legislative reforms in how consumer rates are set for investor-owned water utilities.”

They have recently put up a website:

https://www.waterratescoalition.com/

I’m glad to hear from these people, I’m glad somebody is still fighting these outrageous utility rate increases. I also find the Lucerne group is still having meetings.  Here’s their facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/LucerneFLOW/

As you can see, we in Chico are not getting as badly screwed as other towns, but my bills continue to inch up, even though I’ve drastically reduced my water usage. 

It’s time to get on board and fight. 

 

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I have a few comments I’d like to make to the CPUC, but I don’t think they want to hear them

14 Jul

No,  I am not going to attend the PG&E rate increase hearing scheduled for 6:00 this evening. Here’s the notice I just got from the little CPUC shill who attached himself to my leg when I asked Butte Supervisors and City of Chico to protest these rate increases.

Subject: RE: REMINDER: 7/14 CPUC Public Hearing on PG&E Rates

 Good afternoon!

 I hope you’re well!  I’m just writing to ask if you’ll be able to join us at our hearing in Chico (at the Chico Elks Lodge) tomorrow Thursday 7/14 @ 6 PM on PG&E’s rate increase requests.  Will you be able to make it?  We hope to see you there!

 Yours,

 Cody Naylor

News & Outreach Office

California Public Utilities Commission

415 703 4372

cody.naylor@cpuc.ca.gov

He tries to get me to post these notices on the blog – we’re grateful for any assistance you can provide to help publicize this event and spread the word to your contacts  – but I’m not going to shill for a shill, end of story.  I told him same.

No, I will not attend. I know this meeting is just a legal requirement for PG&E to increase rates, my comments don’t matter. I have other important matters to which I need attend. 
I have not shared your invitation with my readers, friends, or tenants. We’ve been discussing the scandal-plagued relationship between the CPUC and PG&E, among other things.

 

http://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/State/StateEntity.aspx?entityid=3822&fiscalyear=2014

http://www.mercurynews.com/columns/ci_30127295/thomas-d-elias-audit-shows-why-puc-reforms

In future please feel free  to contact me at chicotaxpayers.com

Thank you for your due diligence, Juanita Sumner 

Get a load of the CPUC payroll – about 1150 employees take over $100 million in compensation. But, according to the first state audit of the CPUC conducted in 20 years, money can’t buy ethics or decency.  No matter how much you pay these motherfuckers, they still steal, and cheat to line their friends’ pockets as well. 

Here’s a good article from last year describing what they are trying to do, this is about the most up-to-date information I could find. I’ll keep working on it.

I think the single thing we can do to turn this situation around is get a better governor. Here’s an interesting article from LA Times

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-california-governor-2018-20160517-snap-htmlstory.html

I like John Chiang, although I’m getting pretty sick of Democrat domination of our state.  He’s responsible for extensive websites reporting public salaries, as well as withholding legislators’ paychecks when they didn’t come through with a budget on time. I want to hear where he stands on “pension reform” – we know we have a huuuge pension liability, and it’s ruining our credit rating as a state, but who should be responsible for paying it down? 

Some people seem to believe the taxpayers should foot the bill for these lavish pensions. I don’t. What do you think? 

How will you celebrate “The Fourth”? Try acting like an American

4 Jul

I always wonder, how many Americans have even read the US constitution? How many of you have read the California constitution? The city charter?

Good homework for “The Fourth.”  

I’ve been reading up on the laws regarding tax measures, how they are enacted, and how the public citizen can resist an avaricious government.

First, we must “Watch the skies!”   Actually, we have to watch the agendas. That is where the initial discussion of putting a tax measure on the ballot is supposed to happen.  We all know it actually happens in private meetings, but, legally, it has to pass through a public discussion before it can be handed to the county clerk, so there’s a place for the observer to begin. I’ve been watching agendas not only for council meetings and county supervisor meetings but the smaller committee meetings in between.

I have to admit, I’ve been distracted with Chico Area Recreation District, trying to figure out whether their tax grab will appear on the November ballot or whether they will go the slimy way and deliver assessment ballots by mail.  Assessment elections aren’t the same as regular elections – they are rigged with bigger property owners getting more votes, the “weight” of each property owner’s vote being determined by the very board that is asking for the tax. These shouldn’t be legal – that’s our fault. We need to try to get rid of the entities that can attach us this way, starting with CARD, and including the Butte County Mosquito and Vector District.

I haven’t heard an elected official at either the city of Chico or Butte County mention a sales tax increase, but with municipalities all around us seeking, and in some cases, getting a sales tax increase out of the voters, I’m worried. Ex-city mangler Tom Lando, the guy who came up with the MOU that attached city salaries “to revenue increases but not decreases,” has been stumping for a sales tax increase for a few years now, saying he wants this and that amenity for the public, as well as better paid cops and fire fighters. 

Wow, what’s better than a base pay of $62,000/year with automatic step increases and mandated overtime that can as much as double that base salary? Not to mention paying only 12 percent toward a retirement of 90 percent of your highest year’s pay at age 50? What the helllllll could be better than that? 

Ask Lando, a guy who is in the regular habit of dropping a C-note for lunch.

I don’t believe Lando is worried about the public, I think he is worried about his $12,000/month pension payments.  Can you imagine living on $134,000/year, without having to work? Just getting a check for the rest of your life.  Ask Barbara McEnepsy – how’s life out on Keefer Road Hon? I don’t even know what Barbara McEnepsy did for the city, but she receives an even higher pension than Lando. 

Here’s the real stinker – these two individuals retired before the rules were changed to make employees “pay their own share” – neither Lando nor McEnepsy paid a dime toward their pensions.

If you are not outraged about paying these pensions, I’ll say – you’re not an American.

 

Short Attention Span Theater – we have the government we deserve in Chico

18 Jun

I’ve just been having a frustrating conversation with a friend about public participation. 

Sorry if I have been rude, Friend.

Friend tried to explain to me how overwhelmed most people are in their lives, they can’t pay attention.

That just got my skivvies in a bunch. I pay attention, and let me tell you, I got stuff going on.  I won’t bore you with my epic problems of the past months, but through it all, my close friends have been annoyed with my constant complaining about what the city and county and various local agencies are doing. My husband keeps telling me the government stuff is stressing me out, I should concentrate more on what’s going on at home. At least we can do something about our private problems, he says.

I have a hard time keeping it all under my hat.  Every morning, when I give my dog her insulin shot, I have to mentally prepare – “don’t think bad thoughts, don’t think bad thoughts…” as I skewer that needle into a lump of flesh behind her collar.   She lays on the floor behind me as I read the paper, read e-mails, she can hear me grumbling about stuff. I have to be careful or she’ll slip into the bedroom and stick her head under my husband’s side of the bed. I can feel the tension in her neck, makes it hard to get loose skin, sometimes she lets out a yelp and a half.

What bugs me is how people are so quick to use any excuse to stick their head in the sand, but they still expect to be allowed to complain when something finally gets under their skin.  I won’t mention names, but I’ve watched the local gadflies make big stinks about stuff, after a few months, the stink dies down, and the problem still exists.  All that blab about volunteers for the park – the park still looks like shit. The work they did at the One Mile parking lot last year has become completely overgrown with non-native invasive plants again. An area they did earlier this year is also going back to a mess.   Whole sections of the park are sub-code – if it was your yard, you’d get a notice to clean it up or pay the city to do it. 

And this conversation about keeping public restrooms open has been going on for two years now. Meanwhile, the million dollar One Mile restroom is pretty hit and miss – here’s the conundrum – if it is open, will it be usable? 

Short Attention Span Theater.

I’m going to tell you Esplanade lovers – don’t go back to sleep! Isn’t it pretty obvious, they’ve shelved the roundabouts until after the election? I’m hoping Cheryl King and friends are quietly looking for somebody to run for council, but I’m not going to bank on it.  

I’d like to see somebody run for CARD. Why don’t I do it? I would if I had some support – I ain’t going into those meetings without a posse anymore.  If they pass their bond, it means the people of Chico are completely gone fishing.

Tony St Amant said it in this morning’s paper – we have the government we deserve.

 

 

Taxpayers pay about three times the “employee” share of benefits and pension

5 Jun

What a week! I’ll ask  you a question people around here have asked for ages – is it hot enough for you?

I bet you’ve been thinking about your electric bill.   A couple of months ago, I got a notice from California Public Utilities shill Cody Naylor, inviting me to a sort of private (not noticed to the public) meeting regarding implementation of “time of use” rates, for everybody, starting in 2018.  “Time of use” means, the price of your electricity rides the stock market all day, between 10 am and 7 pm. Meaning, you pay whatever electricity is selling for, at  that moment.  Right now you can volunteer for time of use, and PG&E will give you reduced rates the rest of the day. But forget about using any of your major appliances during the day – like local Fascist Mark Stemen once sniggered at me – “get used to doing your laundry in the middle of the night Juanita!” 

Well, what about my refrigerator Mark? Where’s the social equity, Mark, when people like you, on a public salary, are able to run their air conditioner all day, damn the torpedoes, while those of living on normal salaries are balancing our PG&E with our food bills? Don’t cook in the house!

Naylor had sent me the notice, telling me he hoped I’d spread the word!  What a liar – they didn’t want people to come, are you kidding. When I complained that they weren’t running ads in the paper or sending notices in bills, Naylor’s co-shill, Claudia Portillo (Office of the Rat-out Advocate) just handed me a pile of limp excuses.  She said the utilities (this was shoved into a Cal Water rate increase meeting) missed their printing deadline and the CPUC doesn’t have the money (!?!)

The utility was originally supposed to send the public hearing notice as a bill insert. However, they were unable to meet their printing deadline to include it with customer bills. Normally the customer notice is sent only once as either a bill insert (most common), or a separate mailer (used by Cal Water for these PPHs). Unfortunately, TV and radio ads are not used because of the high costs which are allowed to be passed on to ratepayers. This is also the reason notices are usually only sent once. The CPUC keeps the costs and their passing through to ratepayers in mind when working with the utility company on customer notifications.

As a government agency, the CPUC has a very limited budget and usually cannot afford to pay for ads. However, it is customary for the CPUC’s media office to write and distribute press releases regarding these types of public hearings to various media outlets. This is done in the hopes that a media outlet will be interested and pass along the information to its audience voluntarily, at no cost to the CPUC or ratepayers.

They don’t want to pass the costs of noticing on to the ratepayers? What kind of bullshit is that? Can you believe she eats with that mouth?

Well, nevermind all that – did you get the notice for the next rate increase proposal from PG&E? This isn’t about “real time pricing,” this is just another rate increase, period.  I got the notice in my most recent bill – “operate, maintain and upgrade” systems, bs bs bs.  They mean, pay off their pension debt.

When I asked Ms. Portillo and Mr. Naylor about their pensions, Portillo sent me some interesting links.

https://www.calpers.ca.gov/

There I found this pdf – “Facts at a Glance”

https://www.calpers.ca.gov/docs/forms-publications/facts-at-a-glance.pdf

The first fact that caught my glance was there at the bottom – taxpayers (“employers”)  pay about three times what the employees pay for their own benefits. 

I  know I’ve been bitching alot about the homeless and the crimes they commit. Here we have a whole class of people who are ripping us off, and we’re just sitting here allowing it. 

Next time you see a Cal Water truck driving by give them your middle finger

27 Apr

I’m listening to the Reverend Horton Heat. He says, “I’m mad, I’m mad out to here! I’m mad!” 

Think he attended the water rate hearing last night? 

I didn’t – I’m done with those stupid hearings. Like I told Judge Jeanne McKinney – they aren’t “hearings,” she wasn’t there to hear what we thought. She was there to provide the legal notice required before her utility company friends raise the rates. 

I was glad to see that Third District supervisor Maureen Kirk attended and spoke against the rate increase. She spoke very firmly, like your mom, my mom – she had that “I’m just about fed up” tone. 

But I didn’t hear much mention of the really important issue in this rate increase – they want to consolidate us with Willows, Marysville and Oroville – towns with major infrastructure repair needs. When Cal Water tried to raise rates a couple of years ago to cover their needs, the CPUC said the increase was way to onerous. So, they want to spread it over Chico too, and make us pay for improvements in those towns.

Not that I don’t feel for those towns, but I’d rather see them pick up torches and pitchforks and take care of their problems themselves. I’d like to see some folks riding out of Marysville on rails, covered in tar and feathers. 

Cal Water has not been taking care of infrastructure because they’ve been using ratepayer money to feather their retirement nests.  The ratepayers need to rise up. Next time you see a Cal Water employee, rise up your middle finger, wave it at them cheerfully and holler, “Pay your own pension, Leech!“. 

 

This is why taxpayers get cranky

5 Apr

Where have I been? Where have you been?

I’m still waiting to hear back from Enterprise Record editor David Little regarding the disparity between the public salaries he reports in his “newspaper” and the figures reported by the state controller. For example, Laura Urseny reported that CARD director Ann Willman makes $111,000 a year, the state controller reports $124,000 – just in salary.  I wrote the editor the usual polite note, and he promised to check into it and get back to me.

And the crickets chirped.

I am also waiting to hear back from my Third District supervisor Maureen Kirk regarding a joint Cal Water and PG&E “hearing” scheduled by the CPUC for April 26. Maureen sent me the notice, and I asked her what the county’s strategy is for opposing these rate hikes. 

And the crickets chirped.

I’m still waiting to hear the outrage of the public over all these rate hikes and tax increases, but, again, chirping crickets.

What is wrong with people in this town? I think it’s that everybody sits in their little houses, hiding, telling themselves it’s more important to watch American Idol. 

PG&E tells us they want to put us on “time of use” rates. That means, if you use power between 10am and 7pm, you pay whatever electricity is selling for on “the market.” Think back, think hard, think ENRON.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enron_scandal

Hey, here’s something I never knew – CalPERs current situation has a lot to do with questionable deals they made with Enron (from Wikipedia):

In 1993, Enron established a joint venture in energy investments with CalPERS, the California state pension fund, called the Joint Energy Development Investments (JEDI).[28] In 1997, Skilling, serving as Chief Operating Officer (COO), asked CalPERS to join Enron in a separate investment. CalPERS was interested in the idea, but only if it could be terminated as a partner in JEDI.[29] However, Enron did not want to show any debt from assuming CalPERS’ stake in JEDI on its balance sheet. Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Fastow developed the special purpose entity Chewco Investments limited partnership (L.P.) which raised debt guaranteed by Enron and was used to acquire CalPERS’s joint venture stake for $383 million.[26] Because of Fastow’s organization of Chewco, JEDI’s losses were kept off of Enron’s balance sheet.

In autumn 2001, CalPERS and Enron’s arrangement was discovered, which required the discontinuation of Enron’s prior accounting method for Chewco and JEDI. This disqualification revealed that Enron’s reported earnings from 1997 to mid-2001 would need to be reduced by $405 million and that the company’s indebtedness would increase by $628 million.

The wheeling, and the dealing – it’s enough to give you motion sickness, doesn’t it just make you want to barf? Here’s what the whole thing was really about;

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/enron-traders-caught-on-tape/

And who do we have to protect us? The CPUC? It was CPUC judge Jeanne McKinney who made the decision to consolidate a PG&E hearing with a Cal Water hearing for later this month. She also decided to consolidate the  Cal Water hearings for Chico, Marysville, Oroville and Willows on the same night, here in Chico.   Write her a note, and ask her why she would expect people from these towns to drive to Chico for a 6pm meeting.  Ask her why the PG&E hearing was scheduled for the same night.  While you are at it, ask her for her salary and how much of her own benefits she pays. There’s a phone number, if you find that more convenient.

Jeanne M. McKinney

Administrative Law Judge

California Public Utilities Commission

jmo@cpuc.ca.gov

(the address on the e-mail exchange was  jeanne.mckinney@cpuc.ca.gov  – I would use both )

Or give her a call at   (415) 703-2550