Comments Regarding SDG&E's Proposed $1.5 Billion Rate Increase

October 12, 2011 at 7 p.m.
East County Regional Center

Thank you for coming to San Diego to hear firsthand from the people impacted by this rate increase.  I represent ratepayers in the eastern portion of San Diego County. Like most of my constituents I am outraged that SDG&E wants a $1.5 billion rate increase in the middle of an economic recession. 

I urge the Commission to treat SDG&E’s proposal the same way SDG&E has treated East County in recent years: Ignore it. Reject it. Trash it.

The SDG&E increase is offensive for three reasons: First, SDG&E’s residential electric rates already exceed rates of the other utilities in the state.  

Second, SDG&E has barreled forward with economically foolish projects that show the utility’s poor fiscal management.  

Finally, SDG&E’s business ethics and safety record are so utterly abysmal that the company’s numbers can’t be trusted.

SDG&E’s residential rates are 13 percent higher than Southern California Edison customers. They are 15 percent higher than PG&E customers. Over the past five years, SDG&E rates have increased almost four times faster than the consumer price index. 

The government I represent— the County of San Diego— has eliminated over 1,600 positions.  Like San Diego families, we’re doing more with less. Not SDG&E.

SDG&E says it needs to jack up rates to pay for fire insurance because insurance costs increased after the 2007 wildfires. If SDG&E can’t afford fire insurance, why did SDG&E managers and executives receive millions in bonus and incentive pay since 2008— after the fires? 

The CPUC determined that SDG&E was responsible for starting three of the 2007 fires. Please, do not give a rate increase to a company that gave bonuses to the people responsible for the fire. Talk about getting burned!

SDG&E doesn’t deserve a rate increase because of the foolish ways it wants to handle ratepayer dollars.

SDG&E recently opened its “Energy Innovation Center” which it claims is a “showcase facility where people learn about energy efficiency and offers education, training, and certification programs.”

The region already has a center that serves this exact function.  It’s called the California Center for Sustainable Energy.  SDG&E wants ratepayers to part with $8 million to run something that already exists!

SDG&E has a stormy relationship with the truth:  $2 million in fines for false statements made during the 2001 energy crisis… $14 million in fines for interfering with the 2007 fire investigation… $1 million for false statements about the controversial Sunrise Powerlink. 

You can’t spend a month in this town without reading about another SDG&E ethical lapse or public safety violation. The San Diego Union-Tribune recently uncovered that the rotors of helicopters working on the Sunrise Powerlink smacked into objects on the ground twice. SDG&E failed to report the strikes.

It doesn’t rain all that much in East County.  But, since Sunrise began, it’s been raining lattice towers, air compressors and other equipment from helicopters. It would be funny if there weren’t lives and property on the ground.

Regarding the number-crunching behind the increase, the Division of Ratepayer Advocates and the Utilities Consumer Action Network have arrived at calculations that are completely different than SDG&E’s.

Both of those groups say SDG&E should be decreasing rates. SDG&E wants $1.5 billion. It doesn’t get farther apart than that.  I know which entity I trust the least.

I urge the Commission to reject SDG&E’s proposal and stand firm with San Diego ratepayers who are already unfairly subject to unreasonably high rates.