Let’s Get Ready to Rumble: PGE and SSJID Prepare for Showdown Over Plan to Cut Rates by 15%

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All eyes in California’s energy and utility community are on the South San Joaquin Irrigation District’s (SSJID) efforts to buy Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) electric distribution system serving Manteca, Escalon, Ripon and unincorporated portions of South San Joaquin County.

“SSJID’s multi-year effort may finally be coming to a head as the District prepares to make their case to the San Joaquin LAFCo detailing why it should be allowed to provide retail electricity to current customers

“SSJID’s multi-year effort may finally be coming to a head in May of this year, or perhaps sooner, as the District prepares to make their case to the San Joaquin Local Agency Formation Commission detailing why it should be allowed to serve PG&E’s customers in the District’s current service territory,” said a PGE Unplugged spokesperson.

"Not many institutions have the financial and technical wherewithal to mount a multi-year effort like SSJID’s unique challenge to PG&E’s dominance of Northern California’s power retail energy distribution infrastructure. There have been many other similar efforts mounted, most notably the recent SMUD effort in Yolo County. But the economic, political and regulatory hurdles that investor owned utilities like PG&E have helped to construct over the years make the challenges involved in such an effort seem almost insurmountable even when the savings to ratepayers are considerable," PGE Unplugged went on to say.

PGE Unplugged believes that the current political and economic environment is also unique. With the severe economic toll that the recession has taken on ratepayers’wallets, they are likely to seek relief wherever they can find it, and SSJID may find an usually receptive audience for its proposal, more details about which can be found at http://www.savewithssjid.com. PG&E is the primary funder of an organization which opposes the SSJID bid to purchase the retail electric system serving South San Joaquin residents, http://www.commonsensesj.com.

Recent media reports suggest that it hasn’t helped PG&E that the company has suffered an unusual bout of bad fortune – some self-inflicted and some bad timing: the departure of former CEO Peter Darbee after a disastrous and ill-conceived attempt to head off SSJID like efforts with Proposition 16, the San Bruno pipeline explosions and Rancho Cordova natural gas explosions, rate increases, the relicensing of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, and a host of other ills.

PGE Unplugged will be watching and reporting on this effort as it unfolds. PGE Unplugged is an unincorporated, non-profit association. Find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pge.unplugged

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A. Garcia, Jr.
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