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OLD FIRE 100% CONTAINED: ELECTRICAL RULED OUT AS CAUSE

 

By Miriam Raftery

Updated June 21, 2012: The Old Fire is now 100% contained at a cost of approximately $2.3 million

June 20, 2012 (Campo) – The Old Fire has charred 995 acres and is now 90% contained.  One residence burned, as well as a recreational vehicle (RV).  Cause remains under investigation, however electrical and lighting have been ruled out. There are no electrical lines near the origin of the blaze on the Campo Indian Reservation, nor were there any reports of lightning, Cal Fire reports.

SANTEE POWER PLANT: TO BE, OR NOT TO BE

 
By David Secor, Candidate, 50th Congressional District
June 19, 2012 (Santee) -- Oh, NO! Shakespeare? No, this isn’t Hamlet’s question, it’s ours.

Will the people, the businesses, and the local governments who all know it’s the right thing to do, stand up and take the actions necessary to stop the proposed Quail Brush power plant. (In what follows, I borrowed the italicized words from Bill.)

TRANSFORMER FIRE AT SITE OF NEW POWERLINK IN ALPINE

 Updated June 20, 2012 to include SDG&E's response

By Miriam Raftery

June 18, 2012 (Alpine) – A transformer fire broke out this afternoon at the site of the new Sunrise Powerlink, where the high voltage line had just been energized, Incident Page Network reports. 

“I can confirm that two transformers are on fire,” said Lori Bledsoe, editor at The Alpine Sun.  The transformers are taking power from the underground portion of the Powerlink and transferring the electricity into overhead lines, she added.

HUNDREDS WITHOUT POWER IN WILDFIRE AREAS; BLAZE NOW 450 ACRES AND SPREADING RAPIDLY

 

UPDATE July 18, 2012:  SDG&E has informed ECM that the Old Fire was not started by Sunrise Powerlink.  “The fire started on June 17 near Miller Valley,” Hanan Eisenman, communications manager, stated in an e-mail received June 18.  “At the closest point, Sunrise is two miles away. Therefore, this has nothing to do with the Sunrise Powerlink.” 

 Cause of the fire, which is now over 820 acres, remains under investigation, per Cal Fire.

 

Update 10:05 p.m.: This fire is now 450 acres, spreading rapidly. an estimated 150 homes are threatened and the blaze is zero percent contained.  A travel trailer has been destroyed. 

Road closures: Old 80 x La Posta rd, Old 80 x Crestwood, Hwy 94 x Church Rd, and Crestwood  2 miles east of Golden Acorn Casino.  There are 15 engine, 2 handcrews, 1 dozer, 4 airplanes, and 3 helicopters assigned. A shelter has been set up at Golden Acorn Casino.  A Cal-Fire spokesman told ECM there is room in the parking lot for trailered livestock as well. An earlier report that Golden Acorn had evacuated proved incorrect.

 June 11, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Approximately 443 households are without power as a 450-acre wildfire rages in or near their communities, ECM has learned. 

Is it just coincidence that earlier today, electricity was switched on to the 500 kilovolt (kv) Sunrise Powerlink for the first time, as UT San Diego reported today? 

At 2:53 p.m., SDG&E’s website states that “a combination of factors has caused a problem with a substation.” 

According to Cal-Fire, the wildfire, called the Old Fire, began around 3 p.m. 

READER'S EDITORIAL: WHY SMART METER OPT-OUTS SHOULD BE FREE

 

By Susan Brinchman 

June 15, 2012 (La Mesa)--It has been one month since the opt-out officially began for SDG&E customers. The beginning appeared "rocky", with misinformation and long waits on the phone reported by customers wishing to opt-out. People who decry smart meters are understandably upset with the costs, and this has led to many not wishing to opt-out. Those who don't know why an opt-out might be desirable become very disinterested when they hear of the costs. It is important to know that an email has surfaced (through FOIA submitted by another party) from the CPUC to CA utility contacts that suggested fixing a penalty-type fee for opting out, in order to discourage people from opting out. PG&E reportedly conducted surveys to determine how many might opt-out if there was such a fee, at varying amounts. If free, 40% would opt-out.

AS SUMMER HEATS UP, SIGN UP FOR POWER GRID FLEX ALERTS

 
ISO asks media partners to promote electricity conservation, especially in Southern CA

June 15, 2012 (Folsom) -- The California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO) is making it easier for media and the public to track power grid conditions and conserve electricity, if necessary. The real-time information is just a click away thanks to new web tools on the ISO homepage:  http://www.caiso.com.

EMERALD WANTS SDG&E DOLLARS TO FUND FIRE/RESCUE DEFICIENCIES

 

June 13, 2012 (San Diego) -- San Diego Gas and Electric has agreed to pay the City of San Diego $27 Million to settle a lawsuit over the 2007 wildfires.  Councilmember Marti Emerald is asking the Mayor to reinvest this cash windfall back into public safety. 
 
The councilmember recommends spending $18 million to design and build critically needed fire stations, citywide, as recommended last year in the Citygate Report on San Diego’s emergency preparedness.

 

EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: TOP LOCAL AND STATE NEWS

 

 
June 14, 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: 
 
 
 
 
LOCAL
  • Carlton Oaks land agreement will connect Mission Trails to River Trail (Santee Patch)
  • Victim in fatal Alpine crash was to graduate from UCSD (UT San Diego)
  • La Mesa Spring Valley School District faces negative bond rating (San Diego Reader)
  • Giant SDG&E line sparks rural activism (UT San Diego)
  • A closer look at executive pay at Sempra, Qualcomm and other companies (UT  San Diego)
  • The local newspaper makes national news- NYT criticizes UT San Diego for using newspaper as pulpit for business interests (Voice of San Diego)
 
STATE
  • ‘Third strike’ and GMO foods labeling initiatives qualify ballot (Sacramento Bee)
  • Sacramento leaders eye pension changes, sales tax (Sacramento Bee)
  • Election officials: get used to uncounted ballots (Sacramento Bee)
  • California likely to need to cut spending more (Reuters)
  • California Highway Patrol Officers  union agrees to monthly furlough (Sacramento Bee)  
 
Read more for excerpts and links to full stories.

 

TRANSFORMER FIRE IGNITES VEHICLE, SHUTS DOWN POWER AND CONFINES RESIDENTS TO THEIR HOMES IN EL CAJON

June 12, 2012 (El Cajon) 9:35 a.m. – Power remains out in parts of El Cajon following a transformer fire this morning. Heartland Fire & Rescue crews in El Cajon responded to reports of a transformer fire in the 200 block of Lincoln Avenue in El Cajon. As crews arrived, they found not only the transformer fire, but downed power lines and a resulting vehicle fire. 

HIGH-POWER LIVING: SOLAR FUELS HOUSE AND VEHICLE FOR LOCAL COUPLE—WITH ALL THE COMFORTS OF HOME

 
“It’s just the right thing to do.” – Gene Dolphin

How Kathy and Gene Dolphin walk their talk every day
 
By Faith Attaguile
 
June 11, 2012, (San Diego) -- When the energy “crisis” hit California in 2001, Kathy and Gene Dolphin got angry.
The roving blackouts and triple-digit rate increases in California caused by Enron’s market manipulations tipped the scales. The soaring electric bill pushed them over the edge.

EAST COUNTY ROUNDUP: TOP LOCAL AND STATE NEWS

 
 
April 25, 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:  
 
 
 
 
LOCAL
  • Grossmont District deals with layoffs for 2012-13 (UT San Diego)
  • Fundraiser for missing hiker search efforts (CBS 8 News)
  • DeMaio and Fletcher heat up mayoral debate (UT SanDiego)
  • Heated exchange highlights SD Mayoral debate (10 News)
  • City attorney threatens to squeeze legal fees out of civic watchdog (CityBeat)
  • Controversy, dispute envelop Palomar College construction site at Indian burial ground (OB Rag)
  • Group launches effort to recall Sweetwater school trustees (UT San Diego)
  • SDG&E avoids shutdown of Powerlink helicopters (UT San Diego)
  • Getting to the bottom of city issues (La Mesa Today) 
  • El Cajon Nixes Chickens (UT San Diego)
  • Council refuses to sign PBID petition (La Mesa Today)
 
STATE
  • Measure to repeal death penalty in CA qualifies for ballot (Sacramento Bee)
  • Social media password bill advances in state Senate (Sacramento Bee)
  • Steinberg to push California for initiative changes (Sacramento Bee) 
Scroll down for excerpts and links to full stories.

CPUC: SDG&E MUST LET CUSTOMERS”OPT OUT” FROM SMART METERS

By Miriam Raftery

La Mesa leader in anti-smart meter movement says plan offers relief, but does not go far enough

April 19, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Ratepayers now have the right to have a smart meter removed from their homes—provided they pay a $75 removal fee and $10 a month  fee to read their meter (for low income users, the rate is $10/removal and $5/month). 

Consumers who do not yet have smart meters and are on a “delay” list will have to make clear anew that they wish to opt out, or smart meters may be installed.

KEHOE BILL WOULD STOP SDG&E EFFORT TO HIKE SOLAR RATES UP TO 600%

 


Petition drive launched to support Kehoe measure set for hearing April 24

By Miriam Raftery

April 18, 2012 (San Diego) – State Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) has introduced SB 1537 to halt efforts by utiliy companies to jack up rates on solar energy producers as much as 600%. 

Daniel Sullivan, president of Sullivan Solar Power in San Diego, says that utilities in alifornia have "launched an offensive on solar producers led by San Diego Gas and Electric. SDG&E has unfairly targeted commercial solar producers by proposing to increase the demand electricity rates they pay by as much as 600%, but only increasing the demand rates on non-solar producers by a mere 52%," he said. To prevent the utilities from derailing our State’s renewable energy goals, Senator Kehoe is introducing SB 1527, which is set for hearing in Sacramento on April 24.

AGUIRRE: SDG&E PLAN TO CHARGE RATEPAYERS FOR WILDFIRE COSTS IS "DONE DEAL"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outraged? Scroll down to learn how to take action.

By Miriam Raftery

April 8, 2012 (San Diego) Updated April 10, 2012-- At the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) public meeting this week in San Diego, Administrative Law Judge Maribeth Bushey and CPUC Comissioner Timothy Simon heard from hundreds of area residents, including tearful testimony by numerous victims of the 2007 firestorms.  Some held twisted burned remnants of their lost homes. Others recalled friends who perished in the flames. 

But the most explosive testimony came from former City Attorney Mike Aguirre, who declared, “This decision is already made.”  He then leveled accusations that the two CPUC represenstatives present, Commissioner Timothy Simon and Administrative Law Judge Maribeth Bushey, are beholden to SDG&E and subverted the legal interests of fire victims and ratepayers.  

ECM EDITORIAL: CPUC SHOULD REJECT SDG&E’S SCHEME TO MAKE RATEPAYERS PAY FOR WILDFIRES THAT IT CAUSED

 

By Miriam Raftery, Editor

April 5, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--When ENRON schemed to manipulate markets and defraud ratepayers, its executives went to jail. BP faces billions of dolalrs in fines for causing the Gulf Oil spill.  When automobile manufacturers sold cars with dangerous defects that killed people, it was their shareholders who paid the price. A lost hunter convicted of accidentally starting the Cedar Fire with a flare gun also spent time in jail. 

Why, then, should SDG&E and its publicly traded parent company, Sempra Energy, expect local ratepayers to pay for its uninsured liability costs for the wildfires that it caused, while its executives get off scott free?

“CPUC MUST REJECT PROPOSAL TO STICK RATEPAYERS WITH TAB FOR 2007 FIRES,” JACOB SET TO ARGUE

 

Supervisor warns of ‘purchased’ testimony from groups receiving SDG&E funding

SAN DIEGO— San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob is set to ask state regulators to reject a proposal by SDG&E that would force ratepayers to shoulder the costs of the 2007 wildfires and future wildfires. The California Public Utilities Commission is holding public hearings on the matter tomorrow at the Al Bahr Shriners Memorial Auditorium, 5440 Kearny Mesa Road, at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

READERS EDITORIAL: SOMEBODY IS AFRAID OF YOU

 
By Diane Conklin
 
Speak out at Thursday’s CPUC hearing on SDG&E scheme to make you pay for wildfires that it caused
 
April 4, 2012 (San Diego) -- As you are probably by now aware, SDG&E is trying to get the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to make you pay for their future uninsured wildfire costs for fires they start, and including the past 2007 fires:  Witch, Guejito and Rice.  For those fires they want $594 million from their customer’s collective pocket, which works out to about $350 a meter.

SDG&E UNVEILS NEW TOOLS TO IMPROVE EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY

April 2, 2012 (San Diego) -- Today, in an effort to help enhance the region’s emergency preparedness, San Diego Gas & Electric unveiled its new mobile emergency command centers and new satellite communication systems in San Diego.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK: IRONY AT BUCKMAN SPRINGS

 

March 31, 2012 (Buckman Springs) -- Cynthia Rowley found irony in this sign posted by SDG&E at a Powerlink tower site in Buckman springs.

"It's right behind my house where we would hike," she said of the posted environmentally sensitive area, where the greatest damage to the environment has been caused by SDG&E itself. "Now there are 10 towers on the east side. It's caused me so much sorrow," Rowley wrote.

 

SHOCKING CAUSE OF THE BIG BLACKOUT REVEALED

 

By Meg A. Watts

April 1, 2012 (Jacumba) – Officially, the power outage that left 1.4 million customers in San Diego and across the southwest in the dark last September has been blamed on a worker in Yuma, according to SDG&E.  But an ECM investigation reveals an electrifying new theory, backed up by photos and an eyewitness account from an  off-duty Border Patrol Agent. 

WIND STORM: POTENTIAL RISKS TO RESIDENTS FROM 20-SQUARE-MILE WIND PROJECT PROPOSED FOR OCOTILLO

 

Part III in our exclusive report on the proposed Ocotillo Express Wind project

By Miriam Raftery

March 27, 2012 (Ocotillo)-Ocotillo resident Jim Pelley dreads the prospect of the 456-tall wind turbines that may soon surround his home on three sides-some less than half mile away. 

Whirling blades, each weighing many tons, would be placed atop an active earthquake fault area capable of a 7.0 quake or more.  Fire danger, groundwater impacts, noise, electromagnetic sound waves and ground current are among the potential perils that he fears.

“Our quiet little town of Ocotillo with pristine views of the mountains will be destroyed forever. In return, we have to deal with the possibility of some serious adverse health effects and many other serious problems,” Pelley, an award-winning photojournalist and engineer, told ECM.   

READER’S EDITORIAL: EAST COUNTY EARTH DAY--SUBSIDY BEFORE PLANET?

 
By Susan Brinchman
 
March 25, 2012, (San Diego's East County) -- On April 1, 2012, an event called East County Earth Day will be held at Mt. Helix Park, billed as a "free, family-friendly event [that] invites residents of East County to experience a local perspective on Earth-friendly practices". The event underwriter is San Diego Gas & Electric, according to the Mt. Helix Park Foundation website. While I commend those who planned the event, I suggest that an event underwriter should have been found that has a record of being Earth-friendly. 

JUDGE ORDERS SDG&E TO CREATE OPT-OUT PLAN FOR SMART METERS, BUT CONTROVERSY CONTINUES

By Miriam Raftery

March 24, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Earlier this month, an administrative law judge with the California Public Utilities Commission ordered San Diego Gas & Electric Company to prepare a plan that would give ratepayers the right to not have wireless smart meters.   

But critics, who claim the meters are public health hazards, say the prospect of being charged for removal of smart meters and paying extra fees each month for meter readings is unacceptable.

WEATHER CAUSES PROJECTED 16-HOUR POWER OUTAGE IN MOUNTAIN COMMUNITIES

Fallen trees block roads in Pine Valley and Rancho San Diego

March 19, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – A weather-related problem with a power pole has left 38 utility customers without power in the East Descanso, Green Valley Falls and Cuyamaca areas. 

According to SDG&E, the outage began at 2:25 a.m. and power is expected to be restored around 7 p.m. tonight, leaving customers without power for more than 16 hours amid chill winter temperatures and snow. 

HOT NEWS: SOLAR NOW COMPETITIVE WITH FOSSIL FUELS AS MAJOR STRIDES MADE TOWARD SUSTAINABILITY, BUT CHALLENGES REMAIN

 “San Diego is becoming a Mecca for renewable energy for the United States.” –Mike Armstrong, Soitec, speaking at the San Diego Solar Energy Symposium

By Miriam Raftery

March 18, 2012 (San Diego) – The future is sunny for solar energy. Price parity with conventional energy sources has now been attained in some areas as demand rises and the cost of solar falls. California has emerged as a national leader in the shift to solar--with San Diego at the helm. 

RESTAURANT OWNER ASKS SDG&E TO “SAY SORRY WITH A STEAK”

 

March 17, 2012 (La Mesa) – Updated March 23, 2012 --  Last week, we ran a story indicating that SDG&E failed to notify hundreds of La Mesa homes and businesses of a planned outage March 2. Sam Chammas, owner of Riviera Supper Club, wich had a full restaurant and band playing when the lights went out, has now challenged SDG&E to “say sorry with a steak.”

Will SDG&E accept this rare invitation from the steakhouse owner, or consider the matter well done? ECM has asked SDG&E to respond and will publish the response when received. Meanwhile, here is Chammas’ sizzling statement:

CPUC TO HOLD 2 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION HEARINGS ON SDG&E REQUEST TO CHARGE RATEPAYERS FOR WILDFIRE COSTS

 

March 16, 2012 -- The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will hold Public Participation Hearings regarding the request of San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas Company to establish a Wildfire Expense Balancing Account for recovery of wildfire-related costs. Two hearings will be held on April 5 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. in the  Al Bahr Shriners Center, 5440 Kearny Mesa Rd., San Diego.

 

SDG&E FAILS TO NOTIFY 200-300 LA MESA RESIDENTS OF PLANNED OUTAGE

Incident cost local restaurant money , highlights risk to ratepayers with medical needs

March 14, 2012 (La Mesa) – After ECM received a question from a reader about a power outage that began Friday night, March 2 and extended until Saturday morning, March 3, we contacted SDG&E.  SDG&E spokesperson Alison Zaragosa initially said that all  2800 customers left in the dark were notified via letters mailed February 14 of the planned outage to repair an underground cable.

But after La Mesa Patch ran a story about losses incurred by Riviera Steakhouse, whose owner said he was never informed of the outage, other community members came forward to say that they, too, did not receive notification.  So we called SDG&E again. 

“We did investigate and we did miss 200 to 300,” Zaragosa told ECM.

READER’S EDITORIAL: STAND UP AGAINST SMART METERS APRIL 5

 

By Susan Brinchman
 

Director and Founder, Center for Electrosmog Prevention
March 11, 2012 (San Diego)--What can be done to gain an opt-out from smart meters here in San Diego and Orange Counties? The CPUC is dragging its heels in "granting permission" for one in our region. They may do so by June, our attorney learned recently. That is not good enough. It is not set and it is not definite. Why? Well, for one thing, few people in our county know about the smart meter problem due to lack of media coverage and no activism that is newsworthy here such as protests; even fewer have taken steps to show the CPUC we want an opt-out.

SDG&E LAUNCHES SMART GRID PRIVACY INITIATIVE

 

Partnership with Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada, will bring Privacy by Design best practices to customer offerings

 

March 9, 2012 (San Diego) – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada, has released a joint paper to document the incorporation of Privacy by Design into SDG&E’s smart grid initiative.  

According to an SDG&E press release, this partnership is the first of its kind in the United States, and emphasizes the “commitment of the company in designing, building and operating a secure, reliable and trustworthy smart grid that safeguards customer privacy” from the start.  

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