Utility Watchdog in San Diego
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2017 Annual Update from the Executive Director

Dear UCAN Member,
I am writing to give you an annual update on UCAN’s activities and to thank you for your support in helping us protect residential and small business utility customers. In 2016 UCAN challenged several SDG&E proposals before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to save costs to ratepayers. In SDG&E’s General Rate Case, UCAN submitted expert testimony, cross-examined SDG&E’s witnesses, participated in almost a month of hearings, and presented cost saving alternatives to SDG&E’s proposals. UCAN’s participation helped cut $100 million dollars from SDG&E’s original rate request and also stopped SDG&E from closing branch offices in San Diego, National City and Oceanside.
Looking forward to 2017, UCAN is opposing SDG&E’s attempt to raise customer’s rates to build a new $639 million gas pipeline. UCAN’s pipeline expert is analyzing the plan to help us recommend other more cost effective alternatives to SDG&E’s costly new pipeline proposal.  UCAN is also fighting SDG&E’s latest application to charge ratepayers $379 million for their uninsured 2007 wildfire costs.  These devastating wildfires, two of which were ignited by SDG&E’s utility equipment, resulted in fatalities, destroyed buildings and forced evacuations of thousands of county residents.
UCAN is also working with the San Diego City Council on water cost of service issues.  UCAN has proposed that the City Council receive advice from an independent expert as they review the Public Utilities Department’s water rate proposals in addition to the experts hired by or who work for the City’s Public Utilities Department.  Because of our work assisting many San Diego water customers with billing and service disputes, we are also meeting with the Public Utilities Department to propose changes to their process to provide improved clarity and transparency to water customers.
As a membership organization, we rely on your continued support to carry out our work.  Please help UCAN continue our ratepayer advocacy by returning your donor card with the most generous tax-deductible contribution you can afford.  Your membership and donations help us continue to challenge utilities when they seek to increase rates or degrade customer service and to help individual customers with problems as they arise. On the back of this letter, you will find a sampling of cases we have been working on over the past year and new issues which we are working to address in 2017.
I hope you have a Happy Holiday Season!


Donald M. Kelly

Executive Director



  • UCAN opposes SDG&E’s new $639 million pipeline request.  SDG&E has an old pipeline that supplies 10% of their gas pipeline capacity.  SDG&E has proposed to replace this old gas pipeline with a new, much larger, $639 million pipeline.  While UCAN always supports safety and reliability, we oppose SDG&E’s attempt to increase rates to pay for a much larger pipeline in an era of decreasing gas demand and at a time when the state is moving away from the use of fossil fuels. UCAN’s pipeline expert is examining SDG&E’s proposal looking for cost effective alternatives.
  • UCAN opposes SDG&E’s request to charge ratepayers $379 million to cover uninsured costs from the 2007 wildfires.SDG&E equipment started two wildfires in October 2007 that resulted in 2 fatalities, significant property destruction, and thousands of evacuations. UCAN believes that SDG&E shareholders should be responsible for these costs, not the ratepayers.
  • UCAN seeks uniform standards for how utilities measure risk and fund their safety plans.  The CPUC is examining how California utilities measure risk and how much ratepayer money the utilities spend to mitigate those risks.  UCAN believes that the CPUC should require a uniform method to evaluate risk so that money spent on safety can be easily compared between utilities to see how cost effective those expenditures were, and how much risk reduction was achieved for each dollar spent.   


  • UCAN’s proposal for independent expert advice on San Diego water rates.  In November 2015 the City Council approved a massive 5-year water rate increase for customers. At that time the City’s Public Utilities Department (PUD) presented only one rate option for the Council to consider.   UCAN is now proposing that the Council obtain the advice of an independent water rate consultant with the expertise to examine in detail the water department's assumptions, estimates and forecasts and whose mission will be to advocate for the lowest possible water rates consistent with safe and reliable service. 
  • UCAN proposals to provide better oversight of the San Diego’s Public Utilities Department (PUD).  San Diego’s Independent Rates and Oversight Committee (IROC) is a citizen oversight committee that provides to the City Council recommendations regarding the operations of the City’s Public Utilities Department.  UCAN is seeking to also provide IROC with the added resource of an independent water rate expert to enhance their ability to provide citizen oversight on water issues.


UCAN advocates are always available to provide assistance to electric, gas, telephone and water ratepayers, especially helping customers resolve billing disputes and avoid service interruptions. Over the past year, UCAN has worked on over 200 cases, assisting San Diego County ratepayers with billing, utility shutoffs, and questions about energy, water, and telecomm services.  If you need our help, we are here for you so please call us at (619) 696-6966 or fill out a request for assistance form at www.UCAN.org

Please Contribute

As a 501(c)(3), we rely on your support to continue our important work. Please help UCAN continue our ratepayer advocacy by returning your donor card with the most generous tax-deductible contribution you can afford.




Thank you again for your continuing support of UCAN.  Happy Holidays!

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.