Friday, August 1, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

PUC Kabuki Dance extends to San Onofre, San Bruno

elias column sig

By
From page A11 | May 21, 2014 |

Kabuki Dance – an activity carried out in real life in a predictable or stylized fashion . . .  refers to an event that is designed to create the appearance of conflict or of an uncertain outcome, when in fact the actors have worked together to determine the outcome beforehand — Merriam Webster Dictionary

For many decades, the California Public Utilities Commission and the big companies it regulates – Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, Southern California Gas and San Diego Gas & Electric – have engaged in an elaborate Kabuki dance every time any company wants to raise rates.

Each time, the companies name a figure that’s preposterously high, then moan a little when the PUC knocks it back – and the consumers end up paying steadily more and more, to the point where California electric rates are the highest in the 48 contiguous states.

Now the Kabuki pattern has extended to other forms of PUC business with those same companies, including the commission’s entirely justified efforts to penalize PG&E for its negligent (word employed by federal authorities who have indicted the firm) management of natural gas pipelines and the efforts by Edison and SDG&E to have their customers foot most of the bills for their blunders at the now-shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Power Station.

As usual, the new Kabuki dances take the form of utilities asking preposterous amounts. Also as usual, they will get knocked back but, it now appears, not nearly as far as they should be. In both cases, the companies should get no new money at all for handling disasters they’ve created and trying to prevent new ones.

PG&E, for example, seeks billions of dollars in new rates plus more money to upgrade its pipeline system, when it has been dunning consumers since the 1950s for just such upgrades and maintenance, while not carrying enough of it out. No one knows just where the maintenance money went, or how much has not been spent as it should have been. The obvious decision here should be to deny any PG&E rate increase until the pipelines are up to snuff, as determined by an outside authority.

San Onofre, involving majority plant owner Edison and its minority partner SDG&E, is a bit different. This plant operated well until February 2012, when a tube leak caused the failure of costly steam generators, eventually forcing one of California’s two nuclear power plants into retirement.

Immediately, Edison and SDG&E began buying replacement electricity, much of it from “peaker” plants nearby that operate mostly at times of the greatest power use. The companies right away charged their customers not only for the usual costs associated with maintaining San Onofre and their guaranteed rate of profit on their investments in it, but also for the replacement power.

So customers were paying twice for the same power, all due to the mistakes of Edison (the plant’s manager) and its supplier, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Edison is trying to get billions of dollars back from Mitsubishi, which designed the faulty steam generators.

The utility has essentially asked $4.7 billion from its customers for retirement costs at San Onofre, the replacement energy and continuing San Onofre costs. When Edison and SDG&E last month agreed to take about one-fourth less, there were major headlines like this incorrect one from the Los Angeles Times, “Customers would get $1.4 billion in refunds in San Onofre deal.”

Not exactly. Customers looking for such refunds on their monthly bills will be disappointed, for even Matthew Freeman, attorney for the consumer group Toward Utility Rate Normalization, who negotiated the agreement with the San Onofre partners, says funds returned to consumers would come as reduced future rates, rather than cash.

“We started out this negotiation saying the customers should not pay for replacement energy if they’re still paying San Onofre operating costs,” he said. “That principle is preserved here.” So Freeman and TURN think they got the best deal the PUC would ever approve.

But Ray Lutz, head of the El Cajon-based consumer group Citizens’ Oversight (not part of the negotiation) says that leaves the utilities with what he calls “an outright theft of $3 billion.”

“Edison was imprudent, they made a big design mistake and blew it with San Onofre,” he said. “The ratepayers should not be paying for this.”

But they likely will, just as PG&E customers figure to pay plenty for PG&E’s negligence. That’s what the kabuki dance is about, and there are no signs it will end soon.

Thomas Elias is a California author. Reach him at tdelias@aol.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • patrickMay 21, 2014 - 5:15 pm

    MR ELIAS you nailed it right on the head. people get this info every month along with their bill. but they don't read it.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

‘Boyhood’ mature on music, moments

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B1

 
Mr. Clean: Dennis Regan offers friendly jokes, with a bite

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Gemstones shine at Solano County Fair

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Trifecta: ‘The Who’s Tommy’ third play in three months

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Japan Summerfest returns this month

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
 
Solano Tea Party Patriots schedule meet

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 7 Comments

 
Highway 12 to close overnight in Jameson Canyon

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

Air district calls Spare the Air alert

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Vallejo police arrest suspect in shooting death

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Stabbing victim dies in Vacaville

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

 
Fairfield police log: July 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

Suisun City police log: July 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

A look at the impact of Wisconsin’s union law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Union: California prison staff told to fake checks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Abbas seeks broad support for war crimes charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US, UN announce deal on 72-hour Gaza cease-fire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

As US job market strengthens, many don’t feel it

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Dow plunges as multiple worries vex investors

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds 2011 union law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Report: Secrecy enveloped Bay Bridge construction

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Yosemite wildfire weakened, evacuations to end

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Candidate goes homeless to show economic gap

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

California ex-mayor sentenced in corruption case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Californians to see increase in health plan costs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

Appellate court overturns high-speed rail rulings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
US warns against traveling to Ebola-hit countries

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Investigators reach Ukraine jet wreckage site

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Congress races to finish VA, highway bills

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

See-through mice reveal details of inner anatomy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
CIA spied on Senate, internal review finds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

Demoted worker shoots CEO, kills self in Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 2 Comments

 
NASA to test making rocket fuel ingredient on Mars

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoons: Aug. 1, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
To err is human – but not in print

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

Why do so many Americans support Hamas

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 16 Comments

 
Nice guy becomes House majority leader

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

Should union organizing be a civil right?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis | From Page: A11, 11 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History for Aug. 1, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Aug. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My irregular monthly cycles were a symptom of cancer, not menopause

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes for Aug. 1, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Aug. 1-7, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: Boseman drips with charisma as James Brown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
‘Godfather of Makeup’ Dick Smith dead at 92

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Starz’ ‘Outlander’ brings novels to life vibrantly

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Dionne Warwick knows her way to San Jose

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar Aug. 1, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
‘Sharknado 2′ whipped up storm of viewers, tweets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

Chekwa taking reps with Raiders while Hayden sits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Safety Bethea finding a groove with new 49ers team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Expos fall short in 10-9 loss to Leghorns

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7

 
A’s deal Tommy Milone to Twins for Sam Fuld

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

A’s get Lester, Gomes from Red Sox for Cespedes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Phelps to compete in 4 events at US nationals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Another decent start for Woods at Firestone

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Ravens’ Rice: His actions ‘totally inexcusable’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Dustin Johnson takes leave of absence from golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Commonwealth Games athlete convicted for assault on rival

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Lynch ends holdout, arrives at Seahawks camp

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Nick Watney leads PGA Barracuda Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Rich get richer: Rays’ Price traded to Tigers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
Dumdumaya takes third in World Junior/Junior Olympic tourney

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

AP Source: Trump advances in Bills sale process

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Mudcats get 15-7 win in Auburn Classic

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

Signups for Friday, Aug. 1, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
Derrick Brooks set standard for NFL linebackers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

.

Business

Daimler launches new version of tiny Smart car

By The Associated Press | From Page: C1

 
Target taps outsider as CEO for needed shakeup

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Iliad of France makes surprise bid for T-Mobile US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
In San Francisco real estate, $1M won’t buy much

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Facebook’s Internet.org expands in Zambia

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
Debit overdraft fees often exceed cost of purchase

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment

Panasonic, Tesla to build big US battery plant

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
SeaWorld, Southwest Airlines ending partnership

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Clifford C. Hemler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Comics

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9