Utility Watchdog in San Diego
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Since 1983, Utility Consumers’ Action Network (UCAN) has represented the interests of San Diego County utility ratepayers/customers. UCAN primarily focuses its efforts on the rates and services of San Diego Gas & Electric company (SDG&E), the City of San Diego Water Department (and other local water departments), cell phone carriers and cable companies Cox Communications and Time Warner.

UCAN’s efforts are focused on intervening in legal proceedings before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), by supporting litigation in court cases. UCAN also supports the individual utility customers with problems they are having with their utility bills and services. UCAN is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit in San Diego County.

UCAN also engages in consumer education through speaking engagements. If you are interested in having UCAN come to speak at your meeting or function please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Ratepayers Won’t Cover Your Losses

In the final resolution to the 2007 wildfires and the associated $379 million in uninsured losses SDG&E tried to pass on to us, today (November 30) the CPUC issued their ruling: No, that’s a shareholder expense, not to be passed on to the ratepayers.

This means you will not be paying an extra $1.67 per month, on average, for 6 years (total $120) to help out SDG&E shareholders.

It’s hard to believe these fires took place a decade ago in October of 2007. Back then it seemed much of SoCal was on fire, a total of 30 separate outbreaks with 8 of those (2 especially large) in San Diego County. The county lost over 2,800 buildings, including over 2,000 homes; a half million people were evacuated; three people died. Many fingers were pointed at power line failures as having started some of the fires.

In the aftermath SDG&E exhausted their insurance coverage and came to the CPUC for relief, paid for by all of us. They argued the losses were not their fault, rather, that wind conditions exceeded all past experience. UCAN’s expert testimony was cited in the decision for, essentially, obliterating SDG&E’s arguments that the winds were unprecedented.

We are extremely proud of the role UCAN played in this. 


Audit: San Diego pays for 3,712 phantom street lights

Recent news accounts report that a City audit, released in early April, details problems in the City’s policies for verifying incoming bills from utilities. The audit was, in part, triggered by the accidental 2013 discovery that the City was paying for 3,712 “phantom” streetlights. Four years later the City is still working with SDG&E to validate the proper amounts to be paid and to secure refunds for any overpayment.
The auditor’s report recommends, and the City has agreed, to centralize and streamline how its own utility payments are managed. To which UCAN responds with a hearty “hear, hear.”
To see San Diego Union Tribunes Article Click Here
To see San Diego Readers Article Click Here
To see San Diego City's Audit Click Here
UCAN has its own experience working with the City, not with how they pay their own utility bills, but with how they bill others for city services.  For example, UCAN’s Fraud Squad has received customer complaints from City water and sewer customers, detailing recurring problems with billing policies, both followed and ignored, as well as undocumented “practices” that can land customers in hot water. These problems arise at both the Public Utilities Department and City Treasurer’s office, as well as at the intersection between the two (past due accounts), causing unnecessary confusion, and in some cases, consumer hardships.
UCAN has been in ongoing discussions for over a year to identify the billing policy errors that result in such hardships and that have required protracted efforts to resolve.  With individual water and sewer billing issues, our Fraud Squad generally receives cooperation from the Public Utility Department, and we are encouraged that they have met with UCAN personnel, listened to our concerns and have agreed to incorporate several UCAN suggested revisions into their policy manual.
While UCAN agrees wholeheartedly that an audit is necessary to address how the City pays its utility bills, we are also working hard to press for improvements in how the City issues and handles utility bills.

About UCAN

UCAN has represented the interests of San Diego County utility customers since 1983. UCAN focuses its efforts on the rates and services of San Diego Gas and Electric Company, telecommunications utilities and the City of San Diego Water Department.