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Old 03-02-2010, 09:15 PM
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Default PG & E agrees local rates are unfair

PG & E agrees local rates are unfair




Pacific Gas & Electric Co. power bills in Kern County are unfair, company spokesman Ken Cooper told the Kern County Board of Supervisors Tuesday.

Customers here pay higher costs for power to keep bills low in the San Francisco Bay area and other temperate parts of the company’s territory.

“Kern County customers are being impacted with high costs and are subsidizing other areas of the state,” Cooper said.

Supervisors responded by calling for an advisory ballot measure in June that will ask Kern County voters if they want the county to replace PG&E with a publically owned utility district.

The blunt acknowledgment that PG&E rates are unfair left many observers stunned.

Kern County Taxpayers Association Executive Director Michael Turnipseed, whose analysis of PG&E rates triggered Tuesday’s debate, wasn't one of them.

Hot summer days force Kern County residents to use a lot of power, he said, pushing their bills through the first and second tiers of PG&E power rates and into the third, fourth and fifth tiers.

But cooler climate customers, he said, don't face the Central Valley's blistering heat and can keep their power bills in the bottom two tiers of PG&E costs.

Since power prices in those bottom two tiers were frozen by the California Legislature in 2001, Turnipseed said, recent rate increases have hit valley ratepayers hard but left many PG&E customers paying less than the cost PG&E pays to bring them power.

“Seventy-five percent of PG&E sales are to tier one and tier two customers. Twenty-five percent of their sales are to tier three, four and five customers,” Turnipseed said. “Twenty-five percent of the customers are paying 52 percent of the cost.”

Cooper confirmed Turnipseed’s data.

“His analysis, his numbers, are correct,” Cooper said. “Seventy-five percent of the ratepayers in the state have not seen a rate increase since 2001.”

Turnipseed estimated that around $350 million a year is transferred from Kern County, one of the poorest counties in California, to more affluent areas of the state who enjoy better air quality, cooler weather and lower power costs.

Members of the public who spoke to supervisors Tuesday were frustrated with the utility and their soaring power costs.

“My question is, ‘Can we fire PG&E?’" said speaker Joan Wright. “If they were my employee, I would fire them.”

Cooper said the utility supported legislation in 2009 that broke the frozen fees on tier one and two — creating a 3 percent increase.

But since any future increase would be capped at 5 percent, said Kern County Counsel Theresa Goldner, “It's going to take a significant number of years to reduce the gap between the (rate) tiers.”

“Clearly that is not enough,” Cooper said.

He said the company has already asked the California Public Utilities Commission for a rate change that would take effect on June 1 lowering the cost of power customers pay in the fourth and fifth tiers.

But because the rate change would be “revenue neutral” for PG&E, and it cannot change tier one and two rates, the utility would actually increase rates for tier three power. That would actually increase some local power bills.

Kern County supervisors left Tuesday's discussion frustrated.

Cooper encouraged them to join with the company in pursuing a solution through the CPUC and other existing systems. He promised that the company’s top leaders were listening and would discuss joining Kern in an effort to pass legislation to fix the problem.

But supervisors said they have little trust in the political and regulatory structure that set up the unfair structure in the first place.

“You can take it up your ladder,” Supervisor Michael Rubio told Cooper. “But you're still subject to the legislature. I don't trust them. We're here today because of the rate structure they set for you.”

Supervisor Jon McQuiston said he doesn’t see politicians in Los Angeles and San Francisco voting to sharply increase their constituents’ rates just to ease Kern County power bills.

Supervisors voted unanimously to place an “advisory” measure on the June ballot that will ask Kern County voters if the county should pursue a municipal utility district — in effect firing PG&E and setting up a county-owned utility that could cost upwards of $1 billion.

At the least, Rubio said, the measure will get the word out to voters about the unfair situation.

“We have an obligation to inform the public that they are subsidizing the Bay area,” Rubio said.

Supervisors also hammered on Cooper about Proposition 16, a PG&E-backed measure aimed at making it much harder to create a municipal utility district or a public power-sharing system.

Supervisor Mike Maggard asked Cooper how much money PG&E is spending on the measure.

Cooper said that the company has spent $6.5 million to back Proposition 16 and has committed to spending an additional $30 million to make sure the new law is passed by voters in June.

“If (the rate structure) is unfair and unjust, I can't reconcile why (PG&E) would spend $36 million to make it harder for people to solve it locally,” McQuiston said. “It's almost like talking out of two sides of your mouth.”
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Old 03-02-2010, 09:40 PM
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Remember that PG&E is the utility company that has a partnership with the Mexican Consulate in Fresno and Oakland to make sure that the illegals know about and have access to the CARE/LIHEAP programs. Those are the programs that everyone who pays a utility bill is charged each month to fund them.
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Old 03-02-2010, 11:27 PM
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"But cooler climate customers, he said, don't face the Central Valley's blistering heat and can keep their power bills in the bottom two tiers of PG&E costs".


That's exactly the opposite of what They told Me when I called Them on an almost 300% increase on the line tax, generation tax, etc, all related to the Smart Meter.
They told Me that I was using too much power to heat my house, so I told Them that My woodstove did'nt have a powercord, and My chainsaw did'nt either.

PG&E's making ALOT of waves in the SF/bay Area this past week dumping $$$ into stopping Other Companies from getting started-up.

What ever happened to SoCal Edison?...I thought that Kern Co. was Their turf?
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Old 03-03-2010, 04:55 AM
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SCE has Eastern Kern County to the ridge over the San Joaquin valley. PGE& E extends north of Bakersfield to South of Shafter or so, Then SCE takes up to something north of Visalia, Then PG&E takes up again.

Sce then goes south from the mountain area north of Frazier Park, then extends south to occupy much of the space not taken by DWP to the San Diego Border. Then it's SDG&E.

It's like the Eastern side of the Sierras, SCE goes into the Southern part of Owens Valley to Coso Junction, DWP picks up to something south of Bishop, then It's SCE again.

It's a patchwork over the state, partly due to when the power companies first started out and who first grabbed what - whether it was a municipality or an investor owned utility. DWP got the Owens Valley for the water, and provides electrical service. Highway 395 east of the Sierras was originally the right of way for what was once both the highest voltage and longest transmission line in the world, North of Bishop to, I believe, Redlands. I believe it was built by Southern Sierras Power Company, which was aquired by California Electric Power, then by SCE.

The area of current large Utilities passed through quite a few small outfits which were swallowed up over several or more decades by expansion of successful ventures.
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RAP IS TO MUSIC WHAT ETCH-A-SKETCH IS TO ART

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"You can observe a lot just by watching." Yogi Berra

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