CPUC ISSUES CONFLICTING DRAFT DECISIONS ON WHETHER SDG&E MAY CHARGE CA RATEPAYERS FOR WILDFIRES CAUSED BY ITS POWER LINES
By Miriam Raftery
October 20, 2012 (San Diego)—Should SDG&E be allowed to charge ratepayers for the 2007 wildfires that it caused – as well as damage from any future fires? The utility has sought to set up a ““Wildfire Expense Balancing Account” (WEBA) that would allow it to recover its uninsured losses—regardless of whether the utility was negligent in failing to maintain its lines and equipment.
This week, two conflicting draft decisions from California Public Utilities representatives are fueling further controversy.
October 18, 2012 -- (San Diego’s East County)--East County Roundup highlights top stories of interest to East County and San Diego’s inland regions, published in other media. This week’s top “Roundup” headlines include:
- Foreclosures drop dramatically statewide (Sacramento Bee)
- Cal-Pers approves 85% rate hike for long-term care (Sacramento Bee)
- State denies SDG&E bailout (10 News)
- Judge delays SDG&E trial amid noose talk (UT San Diego)
- San Diego Supervisors vote to charge poor for their Sixth Amendment rights (Citybeat)
- Lawsuit says police shouldn’t decide who is a reporter (UT San Diego)
- Unplugging wind subsidies: Looming end of wind (UT San Diego)
- Bilbray, Peters spar in first debate (UT San Diego)
- The race for La Mesa (La Mesa Today)
- State Treasurer: Fire Poway bond staff (Voice of San Diego)
- CPUC launches probe of San Onofre, its costs (UT San Diego)
- Charter school in La Mesa ranked eighth in state in API scores
- Real DeMaio doesn’t live up to ‘taxpayer watchdog’ name (Voice of San Diego)
- SDGLN won’t accept pro-Filner ads (CityBeat)
- Trailer Parks in La Mesa? One Council Candidate Welcomes the Idea
Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.
October 6, 2012 (El Cajon) -- Considered to be one of the largest community events in the East County, the annual El Cajon Safety & Career Expo is being held Saturday, October 13th, at 100 E. Lexington Avenue from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
After a special noon welcome ceremony, the El Cajon Police Department will have a special Police K-9 demonstration. San Diego Gas & Electric and Mission Federal Credit Union are our title sponsors, both dedicated to education in the community. Stop by their booths for valuable safety information and get a fire badge sticker and red fire helmet for the children.
October 5, 2012 (San Diego) – The California Public Utilities Commission will hold a public hearing on SDG&E profits on October 5 at 7 p.m. in the Al Bahr Shriners Hall, 5440 Kearny Mesa Road.
The utility has repeatedly sought rate hikes. But SDG&E already has among the highest profit rates in the United States at 11.1%. Further, a recent study by The Utility Reform Network (TURN) indicates a 9.4% profit would be a fairer rate that would enable energy bills to be reduced by $50 a year for the average family. The public is invited to testify at the hearing.
POWER OUTAGE IN EL CAJON INVOLVING EXPLOSION IN TRANSFORMER, UNDERGROUND PROBLEMS, AND POSSIBLE GAS LEAK
September 22, 2012 (El Cajon)-- A power outage that left downtown El Cajon, including the courthouse, in the dark yesterday afternoon and evening was started by a transformer fire, ECM has learned.
According to a fire official, there was also an underground explosion and gas leak--a potentially dangerous situation that forced shut down of an adjacent gas station and blocking off a section of Main Street just west of downtown.
The outage began about 3 p.m. SDG&E's website indicated power restoration could take up until 11:59 p.m. The website blamed a "suspected problem in the overhead electrical system" although there are no powerlines visible near the transformer in question.
September 20, 2012 -- (San Diego’s East County)--East County Roundup highlights top stories of interest to East County and San Diego’s inland regions, published in other media. This week’s top “Roundup” headlines include:
- County invokes state suspension of meeting laws (UT San Diego)
- SDG&E to pay federal government $643 million for fire damage (North County Times)
- Cal-Trans wins fatal crash suit, asks family to pay (UT San Diego)
- 2 former Navy Seals from San Diego killed in embassy attack (10 News)
- Scientists weigh effects of climate change: Scripps conference seeks solution to sea level rise (North County Times)
- Sycamore landfill approved after years of litigation (Santee Patch)
- Lawsuit aims to reveal misuse of baseball funds at Grossmont High (La Mesa Patch)
- Cal State system to hike tuition 5% if Prop 30 fails (Los Angeles Times)
- Jerry Brown and Molly Munger both want to raise taxes to help schools, but differ on approach (Sacramento Bee)
- Brown signs overhaul of California’s worker compensation (Sacramento Bee)
- 700 bills on Brown’s desk (Sacramento Bee)
- State restricts military funeral protests (UT San Diego)
- California Legislature approves public pension changes (Sacramento Bee)
- The Salton Sea: Death and Politics in the Great American Water War (Wired)
Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.
By Nadin Abbott
September 8, 2012 (San Diego)—There was tension in the air as the two legal teams got ready to present their case before District Judge William Q. Hayes.
Community Advocates for Renewable Energy Stewardship (CARES) lawyer, William Pate, observed, “This case is not about energy policies or government programs, it’s about the rule of law.” Pate argued that the government has to be ruled by laws, and that “it is no more complicated than that.” He also argued that government agencies, in this case the Bureau of Land Management, are run by people and that people make mistakes.
September 5, 2012 (San Diego) – Smart City San Diego and the San Diego Zoo today announced they will install a solar photovoltaic canopy that will charge electric vehicles (EV) in the Zoo parking lot. Smart City San Diego is a collaboration that combines the resources of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), City of San Diego, GE, UC San Diego and CleanTECH San Diego to drive projects forward that improve the region’s energy independence, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and assert San Diego as a clean energy leader.
DEPT. OF ENERGY TO ISSUE PRESIDENTIAL PERMIT FOR ENERGIA SIERRA JUAREZ CROSS-BORDER TRANSMISSION LINES
By Miriam Raftery
August 19, 2012 – Yesterday the Federal Register included notice that the U.S. Department of Energy has announced it will issue a Presidential permit to Energia Sierra Juarez U.S. Transmission, LLC (ESJ) to construct, operate, maintain and connect a 230 kV electric transmission line across the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego’s East County. Read the notice: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-08-17/html/2012-20234.htm
By Mark Gabrish Conlan
August 11, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--It shouldn’t have been much of a surprise when Governor Jerry Brown appeared at the opening of the opening of the Suncrest Powerstation near Alpine July 27 and said “you have to crush the opposition” to giant wind and solar development projects. After all, a year and two days before that the Sacramento Bee reported that Brown had addressed a “renewable energy conference” in Los Angeles and used almost similar language to express his determination to get these mega-projects through no matter what the people who live nearby think of them. “In Oakland, I learned that some kind of opposition you just have to crush,” Brown said in July 2011. “Talk a little bit, but at the end of the day you have to move forward, and California needs to move forward with our renewable energy.”
August 9, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – SDG&E has called a ‘Reduce Your Use’ event day today due to hotter-than-average temperatures.
While SDG&E has adequate electricity resources to meet the demand, customers can help reduce strain on the electric grid by reducing their electricity use today between 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. By doing so, they will be eligible to earn a bill credit of $0.75 per kilowatt hour saved.
DRA Says SDG&E’s cost of capital request is out of line with today’s market and unfair to customers
August 7, 2012 (San Francisco) – The Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA), the independent consumer advocate within the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), on Monday presented evidence in the CPUC’s proceeding on Cost of Capital. DRA found that San Diego Gas & Electric Company’s (SDG&E) request for an 11.0% Return on Equity far exceeds both the company’s revenue needs and market standards.
DRA recommends that the appropriate Return on Equity (“ROE,” or the revenue that shareholders can expect to earn on their investment) should be 8.5%, which would result in a $50 million annual savings to SDG&E’s customers. [See Cost of Capital Comparison Chart]
Meeting August 7 in Deerhorn Valley on fire mitigation funds
By Kim Hamilton, Editor, Deerhorn Valley Antler
August 6, 2012 (Deerhorn Valley)--We are now well into a perilous fire season. SDG&E, in its guise as the “Sunrise Powerlink Fire Mitigation Group,” has notified some 1,300 at-risk homeowners along the Powerlink that they are “potentially qualified to receive grant funds for the creation of defensible space or structure hardening...” Up to $2,000 per parcel is being made available on a yearly basis. Make no mistake: this is not done out of the goodness of their hearts. Nor will it eliminate the increased danger we now face from Powerlink. It was simply a requirement for approval. A “partial mitigation.”
We, the at-risk and soon-to-be-crushed (as our Governor threatened last week), need answers to some serious questions about these “grants”:
By Miriam Raftery, Editor
July 27, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--Standing on a former mountaintop blasted away to build the new Suncrest Substation, Governor Jerry Brown yesterday praised completion of the 117-mile Sunrise Powerlink high voltage lines—and denigrated 79,000 citizens who have fought against destroying our communities and scenic vistas.
“You have to crush the opposition,” the Governor said forcefully, after joking that there were more dignitaries inside the celebration than people protesting down the street.
His words are unbecoming of our state’s highest official and an insult to the hard-working people of our region, most of whom couldn’t afford to take off work and attend a protest rally during the work day in this remote spot. But their concerns are valid, heartfelt and deserve serious consideration, not hate or derision.
Let me tell you about some of those people our Governor wants to “crush.”
Outside, protesters object to Powerlink and more power projects planned for region
By Miriam Raftery
July 27, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – “That snap, crackle and pop is the sound of success,’ SDG&E president and chief financial officer Michael Niggli declared, referring to the noises emanating from high voltage lines at the newly completed Suncrest Substation.
Atop a former mountaintop blasted away for the project’s construction, Governor Jerry Brown and former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined with energy industry executives to celebrate what they view as a milestone in meeting the state’s ambitious renewable energy goals.
Governor Brown to be present at event
July 25, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)—Opponents of Sunrise Powerlink and massive industrial energy projects proposed to tie into the line are encouraging the public to join a protest on Thursday, July 26 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m.
While SDG&E's invited dignitaries including Governor Jerry Brown celebrate completion of the new Suncrest Substation just east of Alpine, protesters will gather outside at Interstate 8 and Japatul Valley Road just east of Alpine.
July 25, 2012 (La Mesa) – Patients, some in walkers and wheelchairs, were dismayed to learn that a power outage has forced evacuation of the five-story medical office building #3 at 5565 Grossmont Center Drive.
A spokesperson at the property management company told ECM that power may not be restored until after 5 p.m. tonight.
Power was also out briefly at buildings #1 and #2, but has been restored. The outage was first reported by Incident Page Network, confirmed by ECM at the scene.
July 23, 2012 (La Mesa) – SDG&E announces a power outage is scheduled for Saturday, July 28 at 3:00 am lasting up to four hours and a second power outage on Saturday, August 4 at 2:30 am lasting up to five hours in La Mesa. The outage will affect the following streets:
CONFLICT OF INTEREST CONCERNS RAISED OVER PLANNERS' TIES TO COGENTRIX LOBBYIST AS VOTE NEARS ON QUAIL BRUSH POWER PLANT
By Miriam Raftery
July 19, 2012 (San Diego) At 9 a.m. today, the San Diego Planning Commission will hold an important vote to determine whether to rezone open space to industrial land in order to allow a proposed natural gas-fired power plant to be built next to Mission Trails Regional Park.
Canines identify dozens of sites in path of wind and power line projects
Wind developers “cooperate” with tribes on searches-- but SDG&E refuses to allow dogs on its ECO-Substation site
Story by Miriam Raftery
Photos by Tom and Nadin Abbott, Miriam Raftery, and Jim Pelley
July 18, 2012 (McCain Valley) – Weaving across cactus-studded terrain in McCain Valley, Piper, a border collie trained to find ancient human remains, pauses to sniff the ground. Ears erect, he sits, alerting handler Lynne Engelbert, who records the GPS coordinates. (Click video to view.) Minutes later, Piper’s find is independently confirmed by a second search dog.
“Green” power would come entirely from rooftop solar and other urban sources--not industrial wind or desert solar
By Miriam Raftery
July 15, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) –What if you didn’t have to buy power from SDG&E, but could purchase electricity from a local energy cooperative instead?
Suppose the power was generated all from renewable energy--no oil, gas or nuclear? Better yet, all of that renewable power would come from urban sources such as rooftop and parking lot solar--and you could get incentives to put solar on your home or business.
Now envision this "green" advantage as a member of the co-op--you could earn credits by selling your excess solar power.
READER’S EDITORIAL: TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE: SDG&E FAILS TO PROVIDE MITIGATION FUNDS FOR FIRE SEASON—AFTER ENERGIZING POWERLINK AND RAISING FIRE DANGER
By Catherine Gorka, Lakeside
July 10, 2012 (Lakeside)--Many residents of the East County /back county have received a letter from the Sunrise Powerlink Fire Mitigation Grants Program telling us about the grant program.
The funds for this program should have been given out prior to the line being energized. Instead, funds if approved will not be given out till work is done, and grant money will not even be approved until the end of August -- well into high fire danger season.
June 24, 2012 (San Diego) -- The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) this week approved San Diego Gas & Electric's (SDG&E) East County (ECO) Substation Project, a development that involves two electric substations along SDG&E's Southwest Powerlink transmission line.
117-mile, 500,000-volt transmission line improves electricity reliability, but increases concerns over fire safety for region
June 21, 2012 (San Diego) – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) announced June 18 that it had completed and put into service Sunrise Powerlink, a 500,000-volt transmission line linking San Diego to Imperial Valley.
“Putting the Sunrise Powerlink into service is the final milestone in a complex and challenging energy project that ranks among the largest and most significant in the history of San Diego Gas & Electric,” said Jessie J. Knight, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of SDG&E.
- Regional Chamber of Commerce paints hopeful picture of economic recovery (Ramona Patch)
- SD Unified bringing back all laid off teachers (Voice of San Diego)
- Switching on SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink (UTSanDiego)
- New initiative launches in San Diego to reclaim science’s role in policy decisions (KPBS)
- Helix leader Rani Goyal got $56,000 severance in settlement deal (La Mesa Patch)
- The Starting Line: SDG&E’s Trojan Horse (San Diego Free Press)
- UT CEO’s last media company sold interviews (CityBeat)
- Man fatally stabbed in unincorporated La Mesa (La Mesa Patch)
- California Dems resist Gov. Brown’s welfare plans (San Jose Mercury News)
- California schools facing shorter year (Sacramento Bee)
- Viewpoint: Voters have a right to know how much loopholes are costing state (Sacramento Bee)