San Diego Gas & Electric rates are nation's highest

San Diego Gas & Electric hates the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA). That’s because the Jacksonville utility publishes the quarterly JEA residential rate survey, which reveals the rates charged by the nation’s electric utilities. San Diego’s local utility generally has the nation’s highest prices. When it’s not in first place, as usual, it’s always among the five highest.

SDG&E often has the highest rates by a wide margin. For example, in the first quarter of this year, the cost for 1000 kilowatt-hours at San Diego Gas was $272.02. The second highest was $202.81. Seven years ago, the local utility was first at $211.52 and the second highest was $157.28.

Last year, Richard Rider, chairman of San Diego Tax Fighters, looked at one of the JEA residential rate surveys. “San Diego Gas & Electric residential rates are 62 percent higher than the median-priced utility in the survey,” complained Rider. That quarter was one of the few times that San Diego Gas’s rates were only the fourth highest in the nation.

Bill Powers

Bill Powers

David Peffer

David Peffer

Debra Reed

Debra Reed

Michael Shames

Michael Shames

Niel Lynch

Niel Lynch

SDG&E’s extraordinarily high rates contribute greatly to the profit and stock performance of its parent, Sempra Energy. San Diego Gas’s profits make up more than half of Sempra’s. In the annual report for 2012, Sempra chief executive Debra L. Reed boasts, “We were the top-performing stock in our sector and generated a total shareholder return [stock-price increase plus dividends] of 34 percent, compared with 1 percent for the [Standard & Poor’s] Utilities Index.… Over the past decade, our total return has been 305 percent, nearly double the total return of the [Standard & Poor’s] Utilities Index” and triple the return of the general market.

Nonetheless, SDG&E regularly goes to the California Public Utilities Commission and pleads poverty. And gets away with it. For example, in late March, a commission administrative law judge decided, after extensive hearings, to increase rates; if the full commission agrees, an all-electric SDG&E customer using 500 kilowatt-hours per month will see rates rise 7.7 percent, or $6.55 monthly.

For all these years of lofty San Diego Gas rates, the so-called watchdog, Utility Consumers’ Action Network (UCAN), hasn’t sufficiently countered the utility’s poor-mouth pleadings. Some say it is not for lack of trying, and others say it is. Like other interested parties that enter into commission hearings over utility rates, the watchdog group greatly lives off intervenor fees, or money that is paid to those who contribute substantially to commission decisions.

And that’s the rub. The commission decides whose contribution is substantial and whose isn’t. And without question, a symbiotic — some would say cozy — relationship has evolved. The commission, by controlling intervenor awards, makes sure (particularly under current president Michael Peevey) that those who ask penetrating questions don’t get paid.

An organization participating in a commission decision “lives or dies by intervenor compensation,” says Bill Powers of San Diego’s Powers Engineering. Therefore, the commission “has you on a leash.” Intervenors become resigned to “fighting at the margins, not challenging the basic premise — and [the commission’s] basic premise is to make sure that the revenue of utilities is ever increasing.”

Niel Lynch, emeritus UCAN board member, says the commission has “used intervenor fees to bludgeon well-intentioned individuals who try to raise issues that the commission as presently composed doesn’t want to hear. The commission is kind of a private club. It doesn’t want people rocking the boat.”

Yes, don’t rock the commission’s love boat. A classic example of that advice came in the recent battle over San Diego Gas & Electric’s attempt to get ratepayers to pick up the tab for uninsured costs of the 2007 fires for which the utility was found to be greatly responsible. Attorney Mike Aguirre battled hard to make sure San Diegans didn’t get stuck with the bill. Aguirre requested intervenor fees. On March 18, 2011, Michael Shames, the since-defrocked head of Utility Consumers’ Action Network, protested. Among several things, Shames complained that Aguirre didn’t “adhere to the rules and customs of the commission.” Aguirre’s actions were “outside customary conduct.”

Three days later, San Diego Gas & Electric echoed Shames’s objections. Aguirre was “belligerent and disrespectful to the commission,” whined the utility.

On April 18, 2011, Shames asked the commission to sanction Aguirre, who did not “maintain the respect due to the commission.” Four days later, San Diego Gas & Electric told the commission that it agreed with Shames. The utility flayed Aguirre for “deliberate disregard for the commission’s rules.” In this case, SDG&E and Shames failed in their effort: Aguirre was not sanctioned.

The second phase of the hearings was a victory for San Diegans: thanks greatly to Aguirre’s aggressiveness, the commission did not give San Diego Gas the ability to fleece its ratepayers. But late last month, the utility was at it again, wanting Aguirre’s intervenor fees denied. The utility complained of “semantic grandiosity” and disrespect for commission “jurisdiction and processes.” Among many things, Aguirre’s rebuttal noted that his side had won.

Says Aguirre, “It’s like putting up a sign saying ‘Aggressive Advocates Not Wanted Here.’ [SDG&E] painted the sign and Shames planted it. The [commission] was in on it as well.”

Looking at San Diego Gas’s consistently high rates and the watchdog’s inability to rein them in, David Peffer, the watchdog whistleblower who recently resigned, observes, “It’s clear from the record that Shames is incredibly successful at getting intervenor compensation, but it is not clear how successful he was as an advocate” for San Diego’s beleaguered ratepayers.

Emeritus board member Lynch points out that in early UCAN days, the utility fought the watchdog’s intervenor requests and initiatives tooth and nail. Later, San Diego Gas wasn’t fighting. “Some people wondered if there wasn’t too cozy a relationship between Shames and SDG&E,” says Lynch.

Peffer notes that if the utility was not opposing Shames aggressively at every opportunity, it possibly didn’t “view him as a threat.”

Powers disagrees with this criticism of Shames, and so, of course, does Shames: any charges that he has been cozy with SDG&E are “undiluted toxic hogwash,” he says.

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I think it is clear how unsuccessful Shameless was as an advocate. Folks who thought that UCAN was doing its best to restrain electric rates in the SDGE service area were sending money to UCAN to "support" its efforts. What did they get for their contributions and dues? They got the highest electric rates in the nation, and nobody can explain why those rates are so high. Supposedly the first of the power links to the east (the one constructed about thirty years ago) was going to enable SDGE to bring cheap, surplus power in from the southwest, notably Tucson. So, why are the rates so high? SONGS was touted as a source of cheap and steady power. We now all know more about that than we care to know, but it didn't keep rates down. And nobody can explain just why the situation in San Diego and its power supply should be so costly, other than regulatory laxity.

Anyone who builds an all-electric home in this area has to be extraordinarily inattentive or just plain dumb. That concept generally makes little sense, but in this area is really out of bounds. Gas now is very cheap relative to its historic price and to electricity as a heating method, although that could change.

Another point that could be taken from all this is to buy stock in Sempra, that is as long as the current makeup of the CPUC remains much as it is today. Real regulatory reform would be a signal to sell Sempra.

Visduh: I must admit that Shames had me fooled. I thought he walked on water and wrote columns reflecting that judgment. Then, beginning around 2009, I began hearing about problems inside the organization. But I didn't have paperwork to go on. In mid-2011, I got documents and launched the Reader's probe, which lasts to this day. I agree it is an enigma: what is the explanation for SDGE's consistently high rates other than more aggressive lobbying, cozying up to intervenors, etc.? Best, Don Bauder

Don, I think Shameless had EVERYBODY (well, almost everybody) fooled for a long time. Don't beat up on yourself for being misled--he was very good at what he did, which was doing one thing while appearing to do the opposite. (A look back will reveal that Shameless was mainly concerned with making himself a very good living, and in that he was successful.) Heck, both you and I thought that Alan Greenspan was a genius, and aided and abetted by Woodward's book on him, had little reason for a long time to think otherwise. But now we know better, much better.

While it referred to a different variety of "problem solvers", I think the "tie-wearing, come-to-do-good, stay-to-do-well college-types" quote from Season 4 of The Wire may as well have been written to describe Shames.

Why no mention of solar energy? San Diego is a perfect location for massive retrofitting to provide real competition to the utilities stranglehold. Not massive projects that benefit the few but individual house/apartment buildings with solar panels. Sheesh...what's it take San Diego?

expdx: I agree 100%. San Diego is the perfect location for solar, and what is holding up the solar expansion is the combination of California utilities (SDGE, SCE, PGE) and its fawning purported regulator, the California Public Utilities Commission. The utilities'excessive charges make solar economically questionable for residential and business customers. Incidentally, I have written about that, and will do more in the future. Best, Don Bauder

Unfortunately and ironically, the higher your electricity bill from the grid the greater your incentive to adopt solar. So the"avoided cost" math of going solar doesn't quite work the way Mr. Bauder would like. What would be a more direct line of attack would be to point out that SDG&E's exorbitant profits could be trimmed if the utility were forced by the CPUC to offer its own incentives for solar adoption, especially as the California Solar Initiative fades into irrelevance. Best of all, they could be compelled to buy electricity directly from owners of local solar systems through a feed-in tariff which would compensate them directly for an investment in generating clean energy, not just for offsetting their current demand through netmetering.

c9mc9d: I definitely would like to see the CPUC force SDGE to offer incentives for solar adoption. Best, Don Bauder

We first installed solar over 20 yrs ago. At that time, the only "incentives" were a lower electric bill and doing a little bit to reduce the use of fossil fuels. So I wonder then, can you be more specific about the "incentives" you would like the CPUC to force the utilities to offer?

tomjohnston: One example: SDGE, PG&E and SCE are trying to end net energy metering, which gives consumers fair credit for the solar power they deliver to the grid. That effort should be stopped. The California Solar Initiative is supposed to provide incentives for ratepayers to install solar, in conjunction with the big utilities. But the incentives are not good enough. Best, Don Bauder

Don Bauder, Yes I agree that customers delivering power to the grid should receive credit for it. I also think it's doubtful the the utilities will be able to end NEM.
But, you didn't answer the question. If the incentives are not good enough, as you have said twice now, what do you think they should be? I realize that living in Co., you don't deal with a CPUC administered utility. However, since you are on record as saying that you considered solar pv and rejected it due to the cost, again, what do you think the incentives should be, above and beyond those already offered, to get people like you to "get with the program", so to speak? And while I'm at it, let me play devil's advocate for a moment and take it one step further. If the answer is rooftop solar, as you have said, why should there be ANY incentives? Why should us tax payers help pay for someone else to install solar pv and reduce their electric expenses? Having a utility pay for excess electricity someone feeds back into the grid is one thing, but why should their be anything else? Why should we pay people when they are doing it not for altruistic reasons, but strictly for financial reasons? There's an old saying " To make money, you have to spend money". If someone wants to install solar pv to save on their electric bill, then let them spring for it and let the government, both state and federal, spend that incentive money on something a little more important, like say feeding hungry kids or providing them medical care. THAT I don't mind helping pay for.

tomjohnston: You are correct that I didn't answer the question of how much the solar incentives should be. That's because it is impossible, for me at least, to come up with a number at this point. There are a plethora of variables in any such calculation, and the question of what is politically palatable and possible within the current regulatory framework. I am sure others have a specific number for suggested incentives, and I hope to report on that in the future. Best, Don Bauder

Don Bauder, First off, I wasn't asking for a specific amount or formula for determining an amount. But since you said it, I can only say Come on, man. Surely you can do better than that. How can you say that you want the CPUC to force utilities to offer incentives for solar adoption and not have at least SOME idea of what they should be. That's like someone saying they should get paid more for the job they do and then when asked how how much they think they should get paid, they say I don't know, what do you think. But in this case, I wasn't referring to specific amounts. Logically speaking, amounts would vary by installation. I was referring to what types of incentives. So, should it be increased buyback rates, decreased transmission fees, should they offer a rebate on county/city permit fees, etc, etc,etc. What TYPE if incentives should they be? And while we're at it, how about addressing the second part of my above comment and sharing with us why you feel there should there be ANY incentives at all. Inquiring minds would like to know.

tomjohnston: Again, you are asking for an essay. I hope to be dealing with the questions you raise in a column, which is more appropriate. Blogs are no place for lengthy dissertations. Best, Don Bauder

No, Don Bauder, I am not asking for an assay. Please take note, AGAIN, that I did not ask HOW MUCH incentives should be. I asked what type of incentives should be required. I asked for a simple clarification of your comment, which could consist of 1 or 2 lines in a reply. It's as simple as "Well, in my opinion, such incentives could be A,B or C", as I did in my above comment. Plenty of room in a comment on a blog for that one short sentence. I mean really, how tough is that. My guess is that your reticence to even offer 1 short sentence listing what TYPES of incentives you believe a utility should be required to offer, again NOT how much they should be in terms of dollars, is because you simply don't have an idea of what they should be That's fine. If you want to make a comment such as you "would like to see the CPUC force SDGE to offer incentives for solar adoption" without having even a simple, basic idea formed of what types of incentives they should be, that's your prerogative. To me, it just always seems a little silly anytime someone makes a statement about something needing to be done and yet can't even give a short, concise, 1 or 2 sentence statement of what it is they think that something could be, no matter how primitive a form that idea is. I took me longer to type my above suggestions than it did to think of them. I really don't mean to badger you, but that's just me. I have always been a details guy. Tell me something needs to be different, that's great but at least give me a thumbnail of what the change should be and we'll go from there. It's the old if you come to me with a problem, also come to me with a solution deal. Even if it's just a crude idea, I want to hear it. As I said, that's just me.

tomjohnston: I said I intend to devote a column to this, quoting a number of experts. That is a more appropriate forum. Best, Don Bauder

Ah, Don, Don, Don. I can read what the "experts" say anytime I want. And as a long time proponent of solar PV, I have read, and continue to read, what the "experts" say. No need to someday read a rehashed version of the same in your column. Unless I am mistaken, you have written in the past that you considered solar for your residence in Co., but dismissed it as too expensive. Since you wrote that YOU think more incentives should be required, I was simply interested in reading your own PERSONAL opinion is as to those incentives. You know, the incentives that would possibly entice you to install solar at your home. No need for a column, just a simple sentence or two explaining your own personal view. Obviously though, you don't want to share your personal opinion. I do find that curious, since you have no problem sharing your personal view on almost anything else. But as my youngest would say, Whatever. Time to move on.

tomjohnston: We have passed on solar for awhile because incentives have been yanked here; also, I am told, there will be significant technological improvements coming in solar. Best, Don Bauder

I installed solar panels on my house in April 2006. I just paid my annual bill for electricity to SDGE which totalled $55.91. My home is all electric with the exception of a gas drier, furnace and hot water heater. Maintenance is limited to going on the roof a few times a year to wash off the panels. My original investment after all rebates & tax credits was about $18K & I figure I'm well over half way to the break even point. It's the best investment I've ever made, no longer under the thumb of SDGE!

Dennis: That is great. First, San Diegans should put pressure on the CPUC to lower the utilities' solar-related charges. Second, customers should realize that despite some problems, there are technological advances in solar systems. And prices should drop over time. Best, Don Bauder

Don't fall off the roof: http://www.fairwarning.org/2010/10/solar-installers-death-points-to-job-hazards-in-a-growing-green-industry/

Old data shows that there are about .44 deaths per TwH of solar energy and I don't think they are including people who are injured cleaning rooftop solar panels.

Of course, you may be posting to point out the financial costs of solar. You pay $55/mo on top of $18k and feel that is a worth while investment 8 years in. Further, solar panels don't last forever. My Condo association just replaced our solar panels after about 15 years and it has been a boondoggle.

DooDooEcon: There is no doubt there are dangers in solar. Best, Don Bauder

DooDooEcon Read the comment again. Dennis doesn't pay $55 per month. That was $55 for the ENTIRE YEAR. We have had solar on our home in L.A. for over 20 yrs and on our weekend place in Palm Springs for close to 10. When you look at the aggregate of the 2, we haven't paid an electric bill in years.

tomjohnston: Yes, Dennis said he pays $55 a year, not a month. Best, Don Bauder

I'm guessing roofers have more deaths/injuries than solar panel installers.

spudboy: Roofing is a dangerous occupation. Best, Don Bauder

Being a roofing worker has been in the top 10 of most dangerous occupations for quite some time. But I was surprised when I read that being a farmer is more dangerous. I worked for the company that did the roofing on the Glendale Galleria... for about two weeks. Couldn't deal with it.

tomjohnston: I am not surprised that farming is listed as more dangerous than roofing. With farming equipment that may not have safety features, as well as chemical and environmental risks, farming is dangerous. Best, Don Bauder

SAN BRUNO ASKS THAT COMMISSIONERS PEEVEY, FLORIO RECUSE SELVES FROM MEETING. The City of San Bruno, which suffered a disastrous pipeline explosion September 9, 2010, has formally requested that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) move to make its top commissioner, Mike Peevey, and a second commissioner, Mike Florio, recuse themselves from a May 7-8 so-called safety symposium to be put on by Pacific Gas & Electric, the utility under investigation for the blast, and the commissioners. The blast killed eight people, injured 36, and leveled 38 homes. Britt Strottman, attorney for San Bruno, notes in a CPUC filing that there are three issues under investigation. Two are being overseen by Florio and one by Peevey. Peevey will handle the investigation into PG&E misconduct, and whether there were violations of federal and state safety laws.

Writes Strottman in the filing, "This PG&E-CPUC Safety Symposium is nothing but a forum for PG&E to put on a self-serving dog and pony show in front of the two out of the five commission decision-makers charged with determining the fines and penalties warranted by PG&E's past misconduct, right in the middle of unprecedented and high-profile CPUC investigations into PG&E's deficient management and operation of its natural gas system." What's more, the symposium constitutes ex parte communications that are prohibited by the CPUC's own rules, he says.

CPUC POSTPONES CONFERENCE AMID CONTROVERSY. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has postponed the planned purported safety symposium that it was going to put on with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). As noted above, the City of San Bruno wanted two commissioners to recuse themselves, because they are overseeing critical parts of the investigation of PG&E's role in the September 2010 pipeline explosion. Best, Don Bauder

The reason we have just about the highest priced energy in the USA is because we are being ripped off and the CPUC is enabling SCE and SDG&E to get away with it; while the shareholders of those Corp.'s have been enjoying record profits! These Utilities are supposed to be serving the common good, instead they are they taking advantage of us and looking out for themselves and their shareholders...

It is time to change the name of our City to:

$an Diego, America's Most Connected City, Where Money Rules

Founder: I have been preaching these messages for years: 1. Yes, the CPUC lets SCE and SDGE charge outrageous rates; 2. Sempra Energy, parent of SDGE, as well as SCE and PGE are watching out for profits, their own stock prices, and outrageous top management pay, and don't care about consumers; 3. Money does rule San Diego. That can be said for almost any city, but San Diego is among the worst. Best, Don Bauder

We need government to step in and regulate! The private sector has failed here! This is what happens with capitalism!

Oh wait...

jnojr: As in so many cases, such as the SEC, FTC, and often the DOJ, the private sector company owns the regulators. California's publicly held utilities -- SDG&E, SCE, PG&E -- have the CPUC eating out of their hands. That will be true as long as Peevey heads the CPUC. Best, Don Bauder

It's been a good stock to own and makes money for the shareholders.

Jeff: That's just the point. Sempra does well by its shareholders. It screws its ratepayers. The two phenomena go together. Best, Don Bauder

Utilities in Ca are the most regulated in the country. Taxes and fees are highest in the nation. Can't build new power plants to keep up with demand. Ergo cost of doing business is comparatively highest in the nation. But, always enjoyable to read comments from the gadflies and other conspiracy nuts.

Sjtorres: Sempra is enjoying solid revenue and high profits. It's hard to make the case that rates are going up only because costs are high. Best, Don Bauder

Don, you only exposed the tip of the iceberg, read: "Calif. reactors might be retired if restart nixed" By MICHAEL R. BLOOD | Associated Press April 30,2013 http://finance.yahoo.com/news/calif-reactors-might-retired-restart-005608026.html

If this threat by SCE is carried out, rates will skyrocket in San Diego because SCE has created the worst case scenario in the history of the American power industry.

I posted the most inconvenient truth on this issue on Don's blog "SDGE still hopeful it will screw you" Feb. 27, 2013:

"This is out of control, the fact is that the CPUC, SCE and Sempra are getting away with gross criminal corruption, incompetence and threats against public safety (nuclear and fire) and it is way past due time that Gov. Brown gets off his dead ass and rebuild the CPUC and protect the people of California.

Fukushima must be a warning to everyone in California that it can happen here, San Onofre and fires are proving it."

Anon92107: I agree that San Onofre should be retired. It is ill-located, creating earthquake risks, and was poorly constructed. That's a bad combination. Best, Don Bauder

You're going to need another lifetime Don, because you're going to be very busy reporting as San Diego crashes and burns due to the consequences of skyrocketing electric rates that burn us like never before.

We desperately need all the nuclear plants we can get, especially fusion energy that Cal has been failing to achieve for over 50 years because they make more money failing than succeeding, but global warming is going to make the future unacceptable for our newest and future generations and we have absolutely no defense to protect them from our greed, corruption, immorality and incompetence.

Anon92107 You do realize that virtually all of the experts in the filed agree that viable fusion powered electricity generation is not years away, but decades away, maybe as much as 50 yrs away and estimates research and development cost alone at this point exceed $150 billion. It's highly possible, if not likely, that my granddaughter won't live to see it's implementation. That is if in fact all of the current obstacles are ever overcome. And as far as new nuclear fission plants, until the people of California vote to change the law, construction of any new plants won't happen.

tomjohnston: It's up to Anon92107 to refute your charge on fusion energy's current (no pun intended) viability. Best, Don Bauder

Good luck with that. He/she might want to read up on the work of Professor Robert Laughlin of the Stanford Physics Department. That would be Nobel Prize Winning Professor Robert Laughlin.

tomjohnston: Anon92107, if I remember correctly, is a Cal Berkeley grad. He may not be interested in anything published by a Stanford prof. Best, Don Bauder

And so am I. And if someone doesn't want to listen to someone simply because they went to a different school, then I would label the person as ignorant. And if the person they refused to listen to was a Nobel Prize winning physicist, well as far as I'm concerned that increases their ignorance exponentially.

tomjohnston: I was just kidding. Cal and Stanford are football enemies, not scholarship enemies. I am certain Anon92107 has no prejudice against Stanford researchers. Best, Don Bauder

Anon92107: I doubt I will live to the ripe old age of 154. Best, Don Bauder

No, we don't need more nuclear plants. That ship has sailed. We need a whole lot more of solar and wind energy installations. And as prices continue to drop, we'll be installing more LED lighting in homes and businesses.

dwbat: We certainly don't need nuclear plants in earthquake danger zones. We need rooftop solar. We could use solar farms if they don't ruin beautiful views. Best, Don Bauder

The Ca ISO (independent service operator) has some interesting graphs on it's website. This one shows the current available resources and the demand. Even without the nukes operating peak demand today is only about 75% of available resources. http://www.caiso.com/Pages/TodaysOutlook.aspx#Renewables A separate spreadsheet shows the alert history for the grid back to 1998, Curiously the highest alerts were generated during the Enron debacle. http://www.caiso.com/Documents/Alert_WarningandEmergenciesRecord.pdf That period was enough for me to decide that going solar was in my long term interest.

Dennis: And we should all be thinking long term. Best, Don Bauder

"Curiously the highest alerts were generated during the Enron debacle." Really not so curious at all. California had more than enough generating capacity at the time to handle the demand. It was the energy companies, chief among the Enron, who caused the supply/demand shortfall. They took plants down for "maintenance" on peak demand days to game the system and be able to basically name their price to sell electricity to California. Like I said, not so curious. Enron helped "create" the alerts.

tomjohnston: Oh yes, Enron and others were gaming the system by artificially lessening supply through such moves as you mention. Best, Don Bauder

San Diego Gas & Electric just ended its energy-saving promotion called San Diego Energy Challenge. They emailed customers on May 1 to deliver that news update. Along the way customers earned “badges” and “points” every week. [My “overall challenge achievements” were “7 total badges” and “11,497 points.” But I didn't win any prize.] Some apparently got gift cards or checks, and I think they gave away an iPad.

But their email added this sentence: “If you would like to share your thoughts or comments on your experience with the San Diego Energy Challenge, please send them to [email protected]” I had a comment, so emailed using that address. It bounced back, saying “Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently.”

Why did SDGE ask for comments, but not provide the correct email address? Perhaps they really did not want any feedback. I emailed their customer service dept. and got this nonsense reply: '“We apologize greatly for the email address not working. We are checking on this, at this time. I have referred your comments to the appropriate department.”

The contest was co-sponsored by Simple Energy, Inc. (utilities.simpleenergy.com‎) in Boulder, Colorado, which does similar work for other utilities. Their website states they use “the powerful tools of the modern social web to engage customers and get our utility partners the results their regulators demand.” In other words, throw some of your customers a little chump change for saving electricity.

This ploy seems primarily to generate goodwill with the CPUC, and prove that SDGE/Sempra Energy are fine corporate citizens who care about their overcharged customers.


by dwbat

dwbat: Cock an eyebrow at utilities' so-called energy saving initiatives. Sempra and other companies like it are out to maximize revenue and profits with the help of purported regulatory commissions. The symbiotic relationship of Sempra and the California Public Utilities Commission is an example. The response you got from SDG&E's customer service department was a non-answer answer. Best, Don Bauder

tomjonston, I was being facetious with the Curiously comment. You have it exactly correct, it was a manufactured crisis. Dennis

Dennis: Just ask Ex-Gov. Gray Davis about the effects of that manufactured crisis. Best, Don Bauder

Yeah, and at the same time, you can thank him for giving us Arnold.

tomjohnston: I believe his first name is Ahnold, but if you insist, we can live with Arnold. And he is back firing assault weapons in low-grade movies, where he belongs. Best, Don Bauder

yeah, I was gonna spell it that way, but I didn't know how many people would get it. And I think Ahnold belongs someplace other than in the movies, low-grade or others wise.

tomjohnston: I can't imagine where that place is. Best, Don Bauder

Over two years ago the utilities were finally required to start reimbursing residential solar generators for any excess power that they generated. The final decision by the CPUC was to require them to reimburse at a rate of $.035/KWH. This is a pittance considering that they charge customers up to $.25/kwh for the same electricity. I have no incentive to conserve the power I generate at this low rate. In 2011 I generated an excess of 420 kwh for the year and received a grand total of abour $14.00 This past year I used all of the power I generated plus about 320 kwh of SDGE's power and my bill only went up by $21.

Dennis: With the CPUC's encouragement, the utilities have taken over solar to maximize their own profits. Best, Don Bauder

Let me ask you this, Dennis. How much was your monthly bill before you installed your system in 2006? The difference you're talking about here is about $90 a year, which I would guess would be close to a single monthly bill before you installed your system. I know $90 is $90 but look at the big picture, your "long term interest" as you called it. If it takes you 15 yrs to pay off your system, at current rates, the TOTAL electric bill you would end up paying for that time period is less than $850. If you paid only $100 a month before solar, that's $18k over the same time frame. Theoretically, you're saving over $17k, yet complaining over $90 a year. I just don't get that. Unless SDGE was doing something completely different than I have been told by others, prior to 1 Jan, 2011, all you received was a credit against your usage, up to the actual amount used; no money back and your account was zeroed after reconciliation. In other words, you installed your system knowing, at the time, that you wouldn't would receive any monetary reward for excess power and you called it "the best investment I've ever made". You're getting something that you originally wasn't available, from an investment you choose to make, and complaining about not getting enough. I just don't get that.

Just my opinion.

Opinions vary

tomjohnston: Next, we must hear Dennis's rebuttal. Best, Don Bauder

Is it just me or does Peevey look like the unacknowledged lovechild of Milburn Drysdale and his loyal secretary. Jane Hathaway?

tomjohnston: I confess I had to look up who those characters are. I am not much on TV shows, so have never seen this one. But I have heard of the Beverly Hillbillies. Best, Don Bauder

Tom's close. Wrong Milburn. Peevey is actually the offspring of Milburn Stone and Amanda Blake.

I was thinking son of Ma and Pa Kettle!


by dwbat

dwbat: Yes, Ma and Pa Kettle could qualify, too, except I think Peevey would be a bit older if he was one of their offspring. Best, Don Bauder

Burwell: Now that one I know. Milburn Stone was the brother of a great friend of mine, Joe Stone, former U-T writer, who died a few years ago in his 90s. I am sure that I watched Gunsmoke a couple of times in the 1950s. Joe Stone had written at least one script, and probably more, for that show. Best, Don Bauder

Don, I thought this might be of interest to you:

The show my son mentions that was submitted in the bid for the Emmy was called The Triplets. (Editor’s note: Mr. Joe Stone was the author of this episode of Gunsmoke.) Before it went into production Ken Curtis (Festus Hagin) suggested the name Baker’s Dozen and it was released with that title. I forgot the name of another I wrote which was produced. They brought one I wrote called The Plague. Most of it appeared in bits and pieces in other shows. I also wrote for Restless Gun. And I wrote one for Charlton Heston which he bought from me but they went off to play Moses and didn’t do it. It must have been forgettable. It was called No Gun At Mulberry. Heston played a blacksmith.

Please excuse my typing. (Editor’s note: Mr. Stone’s letter was transcribed for posting purposes.) I gave up trying to do it perfectly 70 years ago.

Joe Stone

Here's the link that chronicles much of his and Milburn's lives (click on the attachments, too):


Duhbya: That is a great letter from Joe Stone. Joe retired from the SD Union about 1975 or 1976. We had known each other for only about three years but had become fast friends. For the remainder of his life (he died in his 90s), Joe Stone and I swapped letters, always insulting one another -- in fun, of course. This letter is so typical of Stone. It gives me fond memories. Best, Don Bauder

Wake up! Burwell is saying that Peevey is at best illegitimate, IOW a ba**ard. He may be correct.

Visduh: I have no evidence that Peevey is an illegitimate child, but he is an illegitimate head of the CPUC. Best, Don Bauder

viewer: I do remember Michael Tuck, and knew him slightly a number of years ago. He left SD to go to LA, then returned. I take it he has left again. Too bad, because San Diego needs his anti-SDG&E commentaries. Best, Don Bauder

And wages here are some of the lowest in the country as well compared to the high cost of living. This is an area of low paying crap jobs.

maryellen1952: Actually, San Diego wages and incomes are moderately higher than the national level, but the cost of living is much higher. Best, Don Bauder

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