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City financial officer gives a much different figure for utility franchise fees – ???

16 Feb

City of Chico “Chief Administrative Officer” Scott Dowell finally gave Presson an answer to my question – how much money does the city of Chico receive in franchise fees from PG&E. 

I had found an article from Ch 7 news in Redding:

http://krcrtv.com/archive/pge-pays-millions-to-northstate-counties

detailing payments to Chico, Butte County, and other local cities and counties, it  reported a much larger figure – in fact, three figures that added up to over a million dollars for fiscal year 2011-12.

 Chico$ 407,735.25 $ 201,282.46 $ 609,017.71 

Dowell came back to me with $690,768. 

Hmmm. Not sure what to think, I responded with the figures from Ch 7 and asked him where I could find this information in the budget.

Look Scott, I’m not calling you a liar, I’m just asking, why the difference in figures? Maybe he’ll come back and tell me how these franchise fees are based. The article indicates local agencies collect more in franchise fees every year, but maybe that was some kind of sunset thing, and the sun went down on it. I’m willing to give a person the benefit of the doubt.

Gee willikers –  maybe Ch 7 screwed up and gave three years’ figures? 

We’ll see what he says – I’m not expecting an answer before next Tuesday. 

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City of Chico gets over a million a year in franchise fees from PG&E – oh excuse me – I mean, from PG&E ratepayers

11 Feb

After we found out about the fees Comcast pays to the city of Chico

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2018/02/02/did-that-chamber-remodel-really-cost-345000-or-is-the-city-of-chico-secretly-siphoning-funding-to-pay-down-the-pension-debt/

several of us wondered about other utility companies and what they – meaning US, the RATEPAYERS -pay to operate here.  So I asked city of Chico clerk Debbie Presson.

thank you again,

I have had another question from readers – does PG&E pay the city a franchise or other license fee (not including the UUT), and if so, how much does the city receive in such fees from PG&E per year? 

 I’m pretty sure I know the answer to the first question but not 100 percent and don’t want to be accused of spreading misinformation. If you are not able to answer please forward my questions to someone who has the information on hand.

 Thank you, at your convenience, for your response – Juanita Sumner

To which she cheerfully responded:

Hi Juanita,

 I don’t believe that PG&E has a franchise agreement with the City…however, I will check with Administrative Services and have them get back to you.

 Have a great weekend.

 Debbie

No, no, no, that’s not right. I did further digging on my own.

From PG&E,

https://www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/newsdetails/index.page?title=20170417_pge_pays_337_million_in_property_taxes_and_franchise_fees_to_cities_counties

“Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is paying property taxes and franchise fees of more than $337 million this spring to the 50 counties and 243 cities where the energy company owns and operates gas and electric infrastructure that serves 16 million Californians.”

“PG&E pays franchise fees to cities and counties for the use of public streets for its gas and electric facilities. The energy company submitted the fees to counties by March 31 and to cities by April 15.”

And, from Ch 7 news out of Redding,

http://krcrtv.com/archive/pge-pays-millions-to-northstate-counties

“Chico$ 407,735.25      $ 201,282.46      $ 609,017.71 “

That’s for tax year 2011-12? Over a million dollars in franchise fees, plus the property tax paid to the county (also listed). 

The city of Chico gets roughly half of all property tax proceeds collected by the county of Butte.

So I guess I should have asked her, “how much money does the city of Chico get from PG&E. Period.” 

We’ll see what Administrative Services has to say.

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. 

 

Cal Watchdog: California’s utility companies have been involved in a power-plant building spree, even though Californians have significantly cut their electricity usage over the same time period. And they’re allowed to raise rates to cover the cost, whether we need these plants or not.

11 Feb

Thanks Bob for this article detailing the way power companies are allowed to operate against the best interests of the California ratepayer:

http://calwatchdog.com/2017/02/07/lack-competition-leading-costly-electricity-glut/

“Companies are granted an electricity monopoly for a particular region, then are guaranteed a hefty rate of return for the infrastructure investments they make.”

“This price system, critics say, results in unforeseen consequences. A recent investigative report found that California’s utility companies have been involved in a power-plant building spree, even though Californians have significantly cut their electricity usage over the same time period. In three years, the state is projected to be producing 21 percent more electricity than it needs, without counting the growth in rooftop-solar applications, reported the Los Angeles Times.”