By Doug Porter
The business section of UT-San Diego leads today with an article informing us that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is considering a proposal advanced by SDG&E to shift the costs of producing electricity to “lower tier” users. The kilowatt-hours charges on the base allotment of electricity would jump by 24% come July 1st.
What that effectively means is a raise in rates for homeowners, small businesses and buildings equipped with solar panels. Current billing practices shift a higher percentage of costs to heavy users. Should the proposal before the CPUC gain approval, the paper says, “the largest home-electricity users would avoid a major bill hike, and could see some reductions.”
This raise in rates fits in rather neatly with a national strategy articulated by carbon-based energy corporations. Since California’s rates are not directly set by the legislature, utility companies are making proposals directly to the CPUC. In many states, like Arizona, these concepts are making their way through the legislature. The similarity of the substance of these schemes is hardly a coincidence.
According to the Center for Media and Democracy:
“ALEC is a pay-to-play operation where corporations buy a seat and a vote on ‘task forces’ to advance their legislative wish lists and can get a tax break for donations, effectively passing these lobbying costs on to taxpayers…”
“…Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations—without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills.”
Here’s the lede from the Guardian’s coverage:
An alliance of corporations and conservative activists is mobilising to penalise homeowners who install their own solar panels – casting them as “freeriders” – in a sweeping new offensive against renewable energy, the Guardian has learned.
Over the coming year, the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) will promote legislation with goals ranging from penalising individual homeowners and weakening state clean energy regulations, to blocking the Environmental Protection Agency, which is Barack Obama’s main channel for climate action.
Details of Alec’s strategy to block clean energy development at every stage – from the individual rooftop to the White House – are revealed as the group gathers for its policy summit in Washington this week.
If you follow the money flowing into ALEC, it’s easy to understand the measures they advance. From PR Watch:
Almost 98% of ALEC’s funding comes from corporations like Exxon Mobil, corporate “foundations” like the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, or trade associations like the pharmaceutical industry’s PhRMA and sources other than “legislative dues.” Those funds help subsidize legislators’ trips to ALEC meetings, where they are wined, dined, and handed “model” legislation to make law in their state.
SDG&E says these rate increases are needed because “its low-use customers have been paying far less than it costs to serve them.” I say it’s part of a larger strategy by the fossil fuel industry to preserve market share in the face of increasing amounts of green energy being produced. And I could care less about saving any money for big users on their electric bills. Perhaps they’ll be motivated to install their own solar power.
This rate increase proposal is just the opening salvo in what promises to be a drawn out battle. The CPUC is tasked with re-writing “net metering” provisions that credit consumer solar productions against their bills over the next two years. Paying attention to what’s going on in upcoming commission meetings is critical. If the big three investor owned companies servicing California have their way, we’ll be looking at higher bills and more air pollution.
City Lobbying Firm Faces Fines
The Los Angeles Times reports the firm responsible for advocating on San Diego’s behalf in Sacramento has reached an agreement with the state Fair Political Practices Commission to pay fines for failing to report fund-raising expenses that benefited about 40 state legislators and other officials.
The settlement stems from a civil lawsuit by a former bookkeeper of Sloat, Higgins Jensen & Associates alleging that owner Kevin Sloat routinely used his home in Sacramento to host lavish fund-raising parties for lawmakers, inviting his major lobbying clients to write them checks.
Via the Times story:
Clients of the Sloat firm were expected to attend fund-raisers at his Crocker Road mansion in an exclusive part of Sacramento and make political donations, Smira alleged in court papers.
“A typical evening at [Sloat’s] mansion would result in between $10,000 and $50,000 for an elected official,” the lawsuit alleges, and in return the firm’s clients “were promised exclusive access to the governor, legislators or candidates.”
One of former Mayor Bob Filner’s early actions in office was to fire Sloat, Higgins Jensen & Associates, along with DC lobbyists at Patton Boggs. His reasoning, it is believed, had to do with the Sacramento lobbyists’ GOP tilt being out of sync with a legislature dominated by Democrats.
From a Reader story by Matt Potter back in December:
U-T San Diego took the move especially hard, reporting in a January 25 news story, “The abrupt dismissals leave the city without an important voice in both capitals right when the first round of budgets and legislative priorities are being crafted.”
Four days later, the paper followed up with an editorial, headlined “Insolence at City Hall.”
Beyond [Filner’s] own flawed process in keeping the council in the dark, the firing of the lobbyist firms leaves the city with no voice at all in Sacramento or Washington at the very time that crucial decisions are being made in both capitals that will significantly affect the city.
No mention was made in either piece about the lobbyists’ work on behalf of the city regarding the so-called Navy Broadway Complex, a giant commercial real estate project to be developed on federal land at the foot of Broadway downtown by U-T publisher and hotel mogul Douglas Manchester.
Another Bad Apple Cop Investigation
One of the points often overlooked in media coverage of the “Jane Doe” lawsuit against the City of San Diego is the plaintiff’s demand for an ongoing monitoring of SDPD activities. The City Attorney has spun the story to the point where it’s almost always reported as a financial issue. Jane Doe is cast as a victim seeking to get rich at the expense of taxpayers.
She and her lawyers claim incidents of sexual assault went on for a decade prior to the arrest of SDPD officer Anthony Arevalos in 2012. Prior to this week’s revelation about taxpayer funds used in hiring a private detective to follow and videotape her actions for 23 days, an earlier legal claim that the underwear taken by the officer during the sexual assault constituted a bribe came as a direct response to the demand for a police monitor.
Yesterday it came out that yet another SDPD officer is accused of sexually assaulting women while on duty. UT-San Diego reported “Officer Christopher Hays, 30, a four-year department veteran, has not been arrested or charged.”
From the 10News account:
Sources also told Team 10 there were red flags about Hays before he was hired by the police department. The sources would not elaborate, however.
According San Diego Police Chief Bill Lansdowne, the accused officer is on paid administrative leave. Several media outlets reported that the County District Attorney’s office received the case three weeks ago and is still considering its options.
The allegations against Hays concern inappropriate touching during pat-down searches of four women. The Police Chief told UT-San Diego that no arrest was made because “there were no witnesses to the cases and no physical evidence.”
Lincoln Club Update
Yesterday’s column reported on a mailer distributed via the Lincoln “We’re Not Racists” Club. An article in City Beat suggested (that’s how I read it) a “Democrat Latina” featured in their latest bit of truthiness might not actually be a resident of San Diego. A spokesman for the Lincoln Club was quoted as saying he wouldn’t talk about it.
Once the article was published, a Lincoln Club spokesman went public claiming the woman in question was a San Diego resident.
What is true is the run-down neighborhood used for the photograph in the mailer–which implies the setting is what’s in store for your neighborhood if you vote for David Alvarez–was actually taken in National City.
Get Ready for a Another Racist Outburst
If you’re planning on watching the opening ceremonies for the Winter Olympics tonite, you might want to keep your social media access at a distance.
From the New York Times:
During the opening ceremony coverage, Coca-Cola plans to run a 90-second version of “America Is Beautiful,” its 60-second Super Bowl commercial by Wieden & Kennedy that salutes diversity, and generated complaints from some viewers who expressed outrage that
“America the Beautiful” was sung in multiple languages along with English.
Also during that coverage, Chevrolet plans a commercial for its Traverse minivan with diverse families — including two same-sex couples — to illustrate a theme, “The New Us.” The spot was created by the Commonwealth unit of the McCann Worldgroup.
On This Day: 1893 – Elisha Gray patented a machine called the telautograph. It automatically signed autographs to documents. 1958 – THe Brooklyn Dodgers officially become the Los Angeles Dodgers 1979 – Pink Floyd premiered their live version of “The Wall” in Los Angeles
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