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Freeing yourself from PG&E’s expensive power & indifference

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POSTED November 25, 2014 1:41 a.m.

I am a PG&E stockholder.

I am a PG&E customer.

I am a former customer of a city utility service that obtained unreliable wholesale water from PG&E.

And I am also a former taxpayer of a government agency injured by PG&E.

The California Public Utilities Commission has determined that as a PG&E stockholder I will not be financially hurt if the South San Joaquin Irrigation District takes over Manteca, Ripon and Escalon retail electrical service. 

The CPUC also concluded customers in the balance of the PG&E service territory won’t be financially impacted by the departure of Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon.

SSJID providing power means electrical rates will go down 15 percent. That’s $12 million a year that residents, businesses, farmers, and government agencies in  Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon won’t have to spend on electricity.

Compared to most PG&E customers, my savings won’t be much — perhaps $60 a year.

That $60 is a king’s ransom, though, for the widowed lady living on Social Security down the street who probably has power use that mirrors mine.

For a typical Manteca family household, the savings could end up coming in at upwards of $200 plus annually. When you have growing kids, $200 can be put to good use.

Perhaps the biggest benefactors are those looking for work that live in Manteca, Ripon, Escalon and nearby San Joaquin County communities such as Lathrop and Stockton.

Paying 15 percent under PG&E’s rate is a big incentive when your power bill is in the five to seven figures. It can tip things in the area’s favor for job development. Roseville Electric and its cheaper public power is one of the key factors why that city landed Hewlett-Packard & NEC Electronics that initially brought more than 7,000 jobs many of which were filled by workers who commuted from nearby communities serviced by PG&E. The significantly lower power rate of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District was a big factor in Folsom landing thousands of Intel jobs.

Less expensive power is a proven job generator.

It is why the City of Santa Clara for its retail power operation that supplies many of the giants of the Silicon Valley hooked up with SSJID via the Tri-Dam Project to secure non-PG&E electricity to fuel their economy.

SSJID entering the retail electric business means Manteca, Ripon and Escalon can benefit from the hydroelectric power that was created with the foresight of SSJID that serves all three communities.

And when it comes to reliability, SSJID has set the standard in both water and power. PG&E got steady, reliable power from SSJID via the Tri-Dam Project for more than 50 years. It was also cheap power. So cheap that PG&E’s own hydroelectric power was often more expensive.

The same can’t be said for PG&E.

PG&E supplies water to much of Placer County including the City of Lincoln. The system failed repeatedly. PG&E was anything but responsive. When the PG&E water line to Lincoln broke for the fifth time in the 1980s, the city was forced to build a  massive storage tank out of concern they wouldn’t have water to right fires. PG&E didn’t care. They weren’t responsive to the people of Lincoln. They held corporate profit and bonuses as a much higher priority. Much of the system in the 1980s consisted of Gold Rush area canals.

They did not answer to the people they served. They answered to stockholders first.

PG&E also had entered into an agreement to run the Placer County Water Agency’s power plants on the Middle Fork Project of the American River at Hell Hole and French Meadows reservoirs and buy the electricity.

An audit conducted years later discovered that PG&E was generating 25 to 30 percent more electricity than they were allowed to do so under the contract for managing the PCWA generators. Not only did that wear the generators down significantly faster but PG&E was swiping free wholesale electricity that it turned around and made major returns on given that when you pay nothing for what you steal it’s 100 percent profit.

When they were caught red-handed, PG&E launched a smear campaign against the PCWA board. Ultimately, PG&E replaced the generators but only ended up paying the PCWA for a fraction of the extra power they generated illegally and then sold to fatten their bottom line.

The opportunity for Manteca, Ripon and Escalon to enjoy less expensive power and to control their own economic destiny after nearly 12 years of delay tactics by PG&E is fast approaching. The San Joaquin Local Agency Formation Commission is conducting hearings Dec.10-12 that are a prelude to a vote at the end of the three days that is needed to allow SSJID to add retail power to their repertoire of wholesale power, water, and storm drainage services they now provide the three communities.

If you want to see that happen, go to SaveWithSSJID.com. A few minutes of your time can put thousands of dollars back into your pocket in the coming years as well as generate jobs for your neighbors.

 

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209.249.3519.

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