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PG&E upset $3K a year would go to kids & not them

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POSTED December 19, 2009 3:01 a.m.
There are grumblings from the PG&E camp that the Boys & Girls Club board has endorsed the South San Joaquin Irrigation District in its bid to takeover the PG&E retail system in Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon with the objective of reducing rates 15 percent across the board.

It is in reference to the latest SSJID newsletter that carried a story on the Boys & Girls Club telethon on its front page as well as a photo of club executive director Charlie Halford with a group of kids in the club’s games room.

So did the Boys & Girls Club board endorse the SSJID bid? No, they did not.

Yes, Halford is quoted as saying a 15 percent savings on the electric rate would translates into $2,700 to $3,000 in annual savings for the club. Halford even said, “That’s money we can apply to programs that benefit kids. It can go to kids rather than pay a utility bill.”

If SSJID does takeover PG&E and cut rates what Halford said will be true.

The back of the newsletter lists 20 organizations that the SSJID has provided service, safety, and conservation information as well as $30,000 in financial support.

PG&E last time around got a handful of organizations – including Second Harvest Food Bank – to come out against SSJID. The food bank at the time just happened to have a PG&E representative on the board just like the Manteca Chamber of Commerce did when they took a position against SSJID.

For the record, Second Harvest has every intention of staying as neutral as Switzerland this time around as does the chamber.

It should be noted that Chamber Executive director Debby Moorhead – who served as president to the PG&E front to fight SSJID that is dubbed “Stop the Power Grab” – has done a herculean job at distancing the chamber this time around from the fray. She did, however, after carefully weighing of the SSJID proposal join her fellow council members in making Manteca’s support unanimous of SSJID’s efforts. The Ripon City Council is also on record backing SSJID.

PG&E management rarely plays by the rules it imposes on its opponents.

PG&E has repeatedly tried to cast SSJID as villains because at the end of the day if the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission gives the green light and PG&E won’t voluntarily sell, they have the authority to use eminent domain for the public good.

It’s funny, but eminent domain is a power that PG&E has as a quasi-public agency. They use it often to route power lines, natural gas pipelines, and place facilities.

PG&E defenders will say there is a difference between forcing someone who doesn’t want power poles on their property that doesn’t benefit them and are forced to allow PG&E to have their way through eminent domain is somehow different. Private property is private property.

Wait, there is a difference. A lot of the “private property” that PG&E has was paid for by homeowners and developers and turned over free of charge to PG&E so they could make money selling the very same people electricity.

PG&E is a shining model of capitalism aren’t they? The state through the California Public Utilities Commission helps guarantee them a consistent 11 percent return on their investment from captive customers.

PG&E – which just spent $3 million trying to collect signatures to qualify a statewide ballot measure to make it more difficult for government entities to enter the retail power business – is upset SSJID is buying billboard space, mailers, and placing newspaper ads trying to garner public support for their bid to enter the retail power business.

The SSJID budget has $500,000 for marketing this year that includes a large chunk to celebrate its 100th anniversary.

Perhaps the reason why PG&E is upset is the money is coming from the $60 million plus undistributed reserve that SSJID built from its Tri-Dam power sales in the past five years with a large chunk of it coming from – you guessed – PG&E.

PG&E also likes to point out that SSJID could do something else with that money besides save people money year in and year out on power costs compared to what PG&E charges. That is what prompted PG&E to drag the Boys & Girls Club into the fray in the first place. You will remember their Stop the Power Grab fliers that mentioned the money SSJID is spending to try and enter the power business could buy 20,000 plus club memberships. PG&E cries foul, though, if someone else involves benefiting the Boys & Girls Club.

SSJID hasn’t raised rates in 20 years and have undertaken six years of capital improvements in the last two years without borrowing money.

Can PG&E say that?
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