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Executive Director Update

Dear UCAN Members and Supporters,

Thank you for helping make our 2015 Membership Appeal a success. UCAN received over 600 donations totaling more than $20,000. These donations go a long way to support our operations and advocacy. We have been busy at UCAN, involved in several proceedings at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), including: 

  • UCAN is a party to the Commission’s review of the residential rate structure; this review includes examining how to restructure the tiered rates that residential customers now use to pay for electricity. This review is also examining whether California’s three major utilities should switch residential customers to time-of-use (TOU) pricing. The tiered rate issues being examined include: 
    • Should the utilities reduce the number of tiers (SDG&E has 4 tiers), 
    • Should the utilities add a customer charge and use the revenue generated to reduce the tiered rate electricity prices, 
    • Should the utilities raise prices for low use customers to reduce the prices of electricity for higher use customers. 

In examining the time-of-use issues, the Commission is looking into whether all residential customers should be moved away from tiered rates to TOU pricing where energy may be more or less expensive depending on when during the day it is used (on-peak usage would be more expensive than off-peak usage). 

  • UCAN is challenging SDG&E’s application seeking to move the time-of-use (TOU) on-peak pricing periods to later in the day. SDG&E is asking that three on-peak hours from 11 am to 2 pm (when the sun is shining) be replaced with 3 hours from 6 pm to 9 pm when the sun is down. By moving the on-peak pricing to some night time hours solar customers would get less for the power they produce from 11 am to 2 pm and have to pay more for the power they use when the sun is down from 6 pm to 9 pm. 
  • UCAN is challenging SDG&E’s application seeking $102 million in ratepayer dollars so they can install and own 5,500 Electric Vehicle Charging Station at 550 sites throughout SDG&E’s service territory. SDG&E has called this $102 million dollar, 22-year program a “pilot”. 
  • UCAN is reviewing SDG&E’s latest 1.911-billion-dollar request in their recently filed “General Rate Case”. 

UCAN has one goal when intervening in proceedings at the CPUC: to give YOU, the ratepayer, a VOICE protecting YOUR interests. To learn more about our work, how we help you and how you can help us, keep reading. Thank you again for your generous support. UCAN will continue working on your behalf! 

Donald M. Kelly

Executive Director, UCAN

UCAN’s involvement at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) 

  • UCAN Makes Recommendations to SDG&E’s Tiered Residential Rate Restructuring Proposals – The CPUC is examining significant changes to the current tiered residential rate structure in California. UCAN’s Summary of Recommendations in this complex proceeding can be found in our opening brief and reply brief filed in January 2015. On April 21, 2015, the Administrative Law Judges assigned to the case issued a Proposed Decision. CPUC Commissioner Michael Florio then issued an alternate proposed decision on May 22, 2015. UCAN has filed comments and reply comments on the Judges proposed decision and we are preparing to file comments on Commissioner Florio’s alternative. It is expected that the Commission will vote on this issue sometime in June or July 2015.
  • UCAN Protests SDG&E’s General Rate Case – SDG&E filed this General Rate Case (GRC) application on November 14, 2014 asking for $1.911 Billion to fund their operations. UCAN served testimony challenging several aspects of SDG&E’s request. If UCAN’s recommendations are adopted by the Commission they will save SDG&E ratepayers millions of dollars from what SDG&E has requested. This case is scheduled for Public Participation Hearings on June 1, 2, 3, and 10, 2015. UCAN has sent out an ACTION ALERT email asking that you attend these hearings. (Click here for our Action Alert
  • UCAN opposes SDG&E’s application for a $102 million ratepayer subsidy to build, install, operate, and maintain 5500 Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at 550 sites – SDG&E wants almost $102 million in ratepayer funding for a 22 year “pilot” to build 5,500 charging stations at 550 sites throughout SDG&E’s service territory. SDG&E’s request is asking that the ratepayers fund SDG&E ownership of these charging stations. UCAN is opposing this scheme. In April 2015 the CPUC held 6 days of hearings on this application. UCAN believes that SDG&E’s pilot is too big, too long and costs too much. 
  • UCAN Protests SDG&E’s application to make changes in the on–peak Time-of-Use (TOU) Periods –SDG&E is asking to move the time-of-use (TOU) on-peak time periods currently set at 11 am to 6 pm (all daylight hours) to 2 pm to 9 pm (some daylight and some night hours). If the CPUC agrees with SDG&E then solar customers would be paid less for the power they produce from 11 am to 2 pm (when the sun shines) and they would be charged more for the power they use from 6 pm to 9 pm (when the sun is down). In January 2015 the Commission held hearings and UCAN filed Briefs in February 2015 asking for modifications to SDG&E’s proposal that among other things offers more protection to customers who already made substantial investments in solar systems. 
  • UCAN has intervened in Southern California Edison’s and SDG&E’s application asking the Commission to approve a $4.411 billion cost estimate to decommission San Onofre SDG&E and Southern California Edison Company (SCE) filed this application based on a 2014 $4.411-billion-dollar cost estimate to decommission San Onofre. UCAN is examining the justification for this estimate and whether the ratepayer contributions that were already made for the San Onofre decommissioning should be enough to cover all the costs. UCAN is examining whether future ratepayer contributions for decommissioning costs should be reduced to zero. UCAN’s experts have looked at the utilities proposals and will be offering testimony to make sure that the San Onofre decommissioning does not become a big money pit. 
    • NOTE: This proceeding involves the decommissioning costs of San Onofre and is different than the San Onofre (SONGS) Settlement. 
    • Increasing Energy Efficiency Between the Electric Utilities and the Water Sector – In 2013 UCAN was one of the first parties to support the Office of Ratepayer Advocate’s proposal to open a Water-Energy Nexus Rulemaking. This important proceeding seeks to improve existing methods for evaluating the cost effectiveness of water conservation and energy efficiency proposals. The CPUC issued a report and a proposed evaluation method (a tool) that helps to determine how much energy is saved through water conservation efforts. If saving water helps to save energy then the CPUC can use the money from the energy savings to cost effectively fund water conservation measures. UCAN’s 2 experts (a water law professor and an energy economist) have been examining what the Commission has produced. UCAN is drafting comments on the proposed evaluation method and tool.
    • UCAN Supports the Commission’s Consideration of Requiring an increase in Renewable Power Procurement – In February 2015, the CPUC opened a Rulemaking regarding their Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). Among the questions asked is whether the CPUC should examine requiring companies like SDG&E to obtain more than 33% of their generation from renewable sources. Currently SDG&E is required to have 33% of its procured power from renewable sources by 2020. UCAN said YES, the Commission should examine this issue. While UCAN has not yet taken a position on how much more or even if the Commission should require SDG&E to procure more than 33% of its portfolio from renewable sources after 2020, we fully support an examination into this issues. 

UCAN’s involvement at the State and Local Level: 

  • January 23, 2015 – UCAN met with San Diego County’s State Senator Ben Hueso’s Chief of Staff. The topic was banning private (ex-parte) communications with CPUC Commissioners and their staffs on ratesetting matters. UCAN wants a law banning this lobbying practice. San Diego County State Senator Ben Hueso (Cal. Senate District 40) chairs the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee, which is responsible for oversight of CPUC activities. 
  • February 27, 2015 – UCAN met with San Diego County’s State Senator Marty Block (District 39) to discuss the potential for electric vehicle infrastructure at public schools. Senator Block sits on the Education Committee and the Economic Development Committee.
  • March 2015 – UCAN talked with San Diego City Councilmembers David Alvarez, Chris Cate, Scott Sherman and Todd Gloria regarding the Council’s proposed Resolution in response to SDG&E’s application to change their current rate structure. In addition to the council members named above, UCAN Executive Director Don Kelly offered comments at the City Council Meeting on March 17, 2015 urging support for the resolution seeking modifications to SDG&E’s proposal before the CPUC. By a 7-2 vote the Council passed the resolution.
  • June 2015 – UCAN plans to meet with County Supervisor Dave Roberts and Dianne Jacob. 

UCAN’s advocacy at the City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Dept: 

  • UCAN helps San Diego water customers by interceding on their behalf when they face water shut-offs or fall behind on bills. We work closely with staff at the Water Department and the City Treasurer’s office for payment plans to avert shut-offs. If you find yourself in this situation, please call UCAN at 619-696-6966 and one of our advocates will help. 
  • Low – Income Ratepayer Assistance (LIRA) – UCAN is working with the San Diego City Council, the San Diego Public Utilities Department, and two other local non-profits (MAAC Project and Campesinos Unidos) to create a voluntarily funded Low-Income Ratepayer Assistance (LIRA) Program. San Diego is the eighth largest city in the nation and currently offers no assistance to low income residents who need help paying their water bills. UCAN is hoping that through a voluntarily funded program, San Diego will be able to offer help to the neediest water customers. Click here to learn more about the LIRA Program.

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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.