Public Utilities

Senate Suspends Anti-LifeLine AB 1407

By Randy Shaw

Beyond Chron

On August 19, tenants from San Francisco’s Central City SRO Collaborative (CCSRO) hit the halls of the state capitol and got the Senate Appropriations Committee to stop AB 1407, the Anti-LifeLine bill, in its tracks. There has been growing opposition to AB 1407 as word spread that it would shift control of LifeLine from the California PUC to AT&T, raising phone rates for 1.2 million Californians. SRO tenants would be particularly impacted, which is why the CCSRO brought a van full of tenants to tell the legislators that AB 1407 should be defeated. The Appropriations Committee appeared to share the tenants concern, suspending the bill until it could have more time to assess its impact. In Sacramento terms, that’s a big victory for LifeLine.

Growing Opposition to AT&T's Attack on LifeLine Program

Randy ShawBy Randy Shaw

Beyond Chron

As we described on July 10, the California State Legislature is moving toward passing AB 1407, an AT &T backed measure that would devastate the state’s LifeLine phone program. The Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee voted 6-1 in favor of the bill on July 8, and the Senate Appropriations Committee votes on August 19. AT&T is used to getting its way in Sacramento, but the 1.2 million low-income Californians whose phone rates will jump under AB 1407 are finding surprising support from influential forces.

Audit Vindicates PUC Intervenor Compensation Program

By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California

The California State Auditor’s has reported that the Public Utilities Commission’s Intervenor Compensation Program “has generally awarded compensation to intervenors – individuals and groups that represent the interests of utility ratepayers – in accordance with state law.”

The audit report - long awaited by consumer groups and utility corporations - surely dismays AT&T, Verizon and PG&E. The Intervenor Compensation Program provides consumers an effective voice before state regulators when for-profit gas, electric, telecommunications or water utilities seek unwarranted rate hikes, or rules that harm residential ratepayers.

Proposed "Water Tunnels" a Death Sentence for the Bay Delta

By Bill Jennings

For over a quarter of a century I've labored in the trenches of the water rights and water quality processes trying to protect it. We have a broad suite of laws protecting the Bay Delta - among them: the state constitution; water code; public trust doctrine; state and federal endangered species, water quality and environmental review acts; fish and wildlife code; and the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) to mention a few. Yet the biological tapestry of this estuary is collapsing. And the agencies that have violated and failed to enforce these laws over three decades are now bringing you the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).

Studies Find California "Fracking" Wells May Kill Livestock, Family Pets

By Dan Aiello

As the deadline for public comment on California Governor Jerry Brown, Jr.'s proposed new regulations on fracking are set to close in just seven days, reports are surfacing of the potential impact on the state's agriculture, farm animals and family pets from this controversial method of oil extraction.

Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as "fracking," is an oil extraction process used on shale, depleted wells and tar-like "heavy" oil deposits. The production process involves the injection of steam, water, sand and rocket propellant into the ground to bubble to the surface the oil reserves. It has been known to make fertile California farmland barren and contaminate groundwater tables.

California's Environmental Leadership: Making Progress Amid Economic Recovery

By Ann Notthoff

What California does makes a difference. When President Obama increased national mileage standards last year, he built on the pioneering work that Senator Fran Pavley started here in 2002. We dream big, we take big steps and when it comes to environmental and public health protection, nobody does it better. With his new budget proposal today, Governor Brown has a chance to build on our state's strong record of environmental and public health protection.

MWD to Vote on Support for Raising Shasta Dam, Tribal and Conservation Groups Opposed

By Dan Bacher

The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California will vote December 11 on a proposal including the raising of Shasta Dam as a "state legislative action priority."

The MWD staff recommends support for "administrative/legislative actions to remove existing prohibition for state funding to raise Shasta Dam."

I am not aware of any state legislation that has been already introduced to facilitate the raising of Shasta Dam.

Governor Brown Signs Human Right to Water Bill

By Dan Bacher

Governor Jerry Brown on September 25 signed historic legislation establishing a state policy that every Californian has a human right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible drinking water.

AB 685, authored by Assemblymember Mike Eng (D-Alhambra), also requires that all relevant state agencies consider the state policy when creating policies and regulations.

SDG&E's Latest Attempt to Exploit Its Monopoly Status & Corporate Power

By Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH

“If we had free market competition, SDG&E would have to absorb the costs of the fire. Quite simply, if they raised their rates, consumers would switch to other providers.”
Sempra-owned utility San Diego Gas & Electric wants “San Diego-area utility customers to pay for nearly all of an estimated $463 million in cost not covered by insurance from the catastrophic 2007 wildfires that were triggered in large part by its power lines,” the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. “At stake is who ultimately pays for the fire’s destruction — ratepayers or shareholders.” SDG&E wants the ratepayers to cover 95 to 100 percent of excess wildfire and related litigation costs.

PG&E’s Success in Washington Led to Failure in San Bruno

By Donald Cohen
Cry Wolf Project

Federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the horrific gas pipeline explosion that killed 8 people in the Bay Area city of San Bruno was the result of a “litany of failures” by Pacific Gas and Electric.

Investigators charged PG&E with " poor record-keeping, inadequate inspection programs, and an integrity management program without integrity." According to internal PG&E documents and emails released in the investigation, PG&E had ample warning that the gas lines welds may have had dangerous flaws.