Menlo Park may oppose PG&E fee hike

The fee is for customers who opt out of PG&E services for 'community choice' energy program

Menlo Park's City Council may vote Tuesday, Dec. 15, to send a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission opposing PG&E's plans to double its exit fees for customers who opt out of its services for a "community choice" clean electric energy program.

An increasing number of the community-choice programs are being organized by local government agencies, including San Mateo County, to give customers the choice of buying more electric energy from renewable sources.

PG&E proposes to increase its monthly exit fee to 2.32 cents per kilowatt hour from 1.16 cents per kilowatt hour, according to a staff report.

While that may not sound like much, it means a jump in monthly added fees to $13 from $6.70 for the average customer of Marin Clean Energy, an existing community choice energy program in Marin County, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The draft of the letter says the hike would "profoundly affect the viability" of a local community choice energy program and its capacity to be a financially appealing option for residents.

The California PUC plans to hold a hearing on the fee hike at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, at 505 Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco.

Menlo Park's City Council is considering a plan to join Peninsula Clean Energy, San Mateo County's community choice energy initiative, which would leverage energy demand across participating cities to purchase electric energy that is renewable and does not emit greenhouse gases at prices competitive to PG&E's.

Council discussions so far have focused on the default percentage of clean energy the city should advocate for, but council members have been wary of variations that would increase the cost to residents.

As more counties consider adopting community choice energy programs, PG&E's claim over its 16-million-customer base in California is threatened by competition from more environmentally friendly energy sources. One way it's fought competition has been through its exit fee, called a "Power Charge Indifference Adjustment," which essentially charges PG&E's ex-customers monthly for the energy the company had previously purchased to serve its customer base before the switch to a community choice energy alternative. According to its website, PG&E says the charge exists "to ensure that PG&E's remaining customers do not bear any cost created by departing customers who receive their electric supply from a third-party provider, such as a CCA."

According to the California Alliance for Community Energy, an advocacy group for clean energy in California, PG&E "continued to procure electricity for customers even when it was clear that they would be departing for their local Community Choice program" and continues to expect former customers to subsidize energy they won't use.

The increased fees would also apply to low-income PG&E customers who qualify for the California Alternate Rates for Energy Program, or "CARE," the group said.

PG&E has long opposed community choice energy programs. In 2010, it contributed $44.1 million of the $44.2 million raised for Proposition 16, which would have required that two-thirds of voters in participating local governments approve a community choice program before it could receive public funds, but the proposition was defeated.

In response to the campaign, a law called SB 790 was passed in 2011 banning utility companies from using customer money to lobby against community choice energy programs.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


5 people like this
Posted by Elaine
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Dec 14, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Shame on you PGE. Industrialization, globalization is sending us down a dead end street. Spend our 44 million on offering more than 25% renewable energy instead of trying to squelch everybody who wants community choice CLEAN energy!
Are you just one more corporation that wants to make billions at the expense of our planet and the human race???

3 people like this
Posted by Steve Taffee
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 14, 2015 at 3:48 pm

One should not be surprised that a publicly traded company tries to obtain and/or maintain a market monopoly and maximize returns to shareholders. This is a traditional approach to capitalism and why some areas have municipally owned utilities. Those have their own set of problems.

Utilities are also wary of the number of home and business solar panels coming online, and trying to curtail buyback programs. The grid DOES need upgrading to safely facilitate this two way power flow. The grid needs upgrading for plenty of other reasons as well.

The CA PUC has repeatedly demonstrated an unethical, and perhaps even illegal, coziness with the utilities it regulates. Consumers need to demand more of them.

Like this comment
Posted by Richard Vaughan
a resident of another community
on Dec 15, 2015 at 7:07 am

When you hold all the cards, why fold willingly? Steve Taffee hits it right on the head. A feckless PUC coupled with a for-profit utility - what could go wrong?

17 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 15, 2015 at 11:48 am

PG&E is the most reckless, irresponsible, and dishonest utility in the United States. PG&E knowingly poisoned the residents of Hinkley, CA with hexavalent chromium, which caused cancer and premature deaths, and then tried to destroy evidence of its heinous criminal acts. If it weren't for one honest PG&E employee that corrupt company would have got away with its crimes against humanity. The Superior Court of the State of California then awarded the Hinkley victims' families $346 Million- the largest award at that time.

Then PG&E goes to the corrupt PUC and gets rate increases to upgrade its infrastructure for safety reasons. But, there was one slight problem. PG&E did not do what it told the PUC what it was going to do and people in Millbrae were immolated in fiery explosions because of PG&E's willful negligence and complete disregard for human life. I would like to know the name of that lawyer who wrote the applications for rate increases to the PUC. That person, in my eyes, is just as guilty as the company.

The Mafia is more ethical than PG&E. Thankfully Senator Jerry Hill is holding PGE accountable for its iniquity and treachery. PG&E is truly disgusting. It has betrayed the public trust.

16 people like this
Posted by Willows Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 22, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Gail Slocum, an attorney for PG&E and Willows resident, applies to the California Public Utilities Commission, for rate increases on behalf of her employer.

To see one application please click on the link below

Web Link

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Don't be the last to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Simply Sandwiches shutters in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 10 comments | 3,298 views

More Stupid Plastic Food Things
By Laura Stec | 11 comments | 1,818 views

Operation Varsity Blues
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 8 comments | 1,463 views

El Camino Is Rapidly Becoming The Bright New Face of Menlo Park
By Dana Hendrickson | 7 comments | 1,354 views

Couples: Write a Personal Ad . . . to Your Partner . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,342 views