City Gets Push Back from PG&E, Chamber on POU

solar-2In December of 2013, the Davis City Council authorized the city manager and the city attorney to initiate actions necessary to provide municipal electrical utility service to Davis residents.  Two weeks later, accordingly, representatives from the city of Davis met with representatives from PG&E to initiate discussions of the steps necessary for implementation of the city’s plan to create a Publicly Owned Utility (POU).

In furtherance of that goal, the city has already spent around $400,000 which came from the city’s enterprise fund.

According to the staff report, “Now that the Phase 1 work is complete, staff believes that the remaining work necessary for implementing Resolution 13-196 should be General Fund expenditure.”

Staff believes that implementation of the rest of the council’s directive would cost approximately $600,000.

Staff writes, “In order to facilitate the financing, City staff recommends that an interfund loan be made from the City’s Wastewater Fund to the General Fund. Similar to other interfund loans recently executed by the City, this loan would accrue interest at 1.9%; however, it is being proposed that the balance would be paid back by the General Fund at that time financing for the proposed acquisition of electrical utility assets is secured. If the assets are not acquired, then payment could be pay annually over a term not to exceed 10 years.”

Finance charges under these terms could add another $60,000 to the repayment obligations.

The item was placed on the agenda as a consent item but was pulled by both council and public requests.  After much discussion, council unanimously passed the item.

The city, however, now faces considerable push back from both the Davis Chamber of Commerce as well as from PG&E itself.

Chamber Survey Suggests Uncertainty, Potential Opposition to POU

Davis Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kemble Pope spoke to council on Tuesday night.

“I just wanted to express the business community’s concern that this issue and topic has been coming without a lot of community discussion,” Mr. Pope told council.  He said while this has been in the pipeline for a number of years, there hasn’t been any active outreach to the community.

“There has not been any systematic public outreach and that does not bode well for the future of this project and I would like to caution the council on behalf of the business community to do that,” he said.

Kemble Pope told council he put together a poll of chamber members that he threw together at the last minute, because he did not know this was on the radar until Friday.

“We did poll our chamber members and out of 600 of them, we had 115 that responded in a four hour window this afternoon,” he said.

Most of the survey (see screen shot below), actually focused on the tax measure, asking the chamber members, “Are you aware that tonight (01/28/2014) City Staff is presenting the City Council with budget projections that call for increasing taxes? Please take 5 minutes to answer the following questions so that we may best represent the interests of the business community at tonight’s meeting.”

The last item was, “The City of Davis is moving forward with plans to separate from Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) and has spent $400,000 over the past two years on this project. Tonight, they will vote to spend an additional $600,000 on consultants to create a workplan to create a municipally owned electricity enterprise. Total cost of purchasing PG&E’s assets is unknown. SHOULD THE CITY CONTINUE WITH THESE PLANS?”

Kemble Pope reported, 41% said they were unsure, “that they did not have enough information.”  Another 28% said no and there were only 32% that said yes.  “The community is not educated, they may support this project, but we don’t know,” he added.

chamber-survey

PG&E Pushes Back Against POU

Those who remember the 2006 campaign that sought to install SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District) as the utility company for Yolo County will recall that PG&E pushed back with more than a $10 million, and at times deceptive, campaign against initiatives in Yolo and Sacramento County.

On Tuesday night, PG&E’s representative Alicia Okelo-Odongo, government relations manager, spoke to the Davis City Council about their proposed POU.  She expressed appreciation for the discussion about the city’s goals for energy.

“PG&E has a long-standing partnership with Davis and has provided energy efficiency savings and support for renewable generation projects for local residents and for businesses,” she said.  “In addition, PG&E delivers some of the nation’s cleanest electric power, nearly 60 percent of electricity we provide to our customers comes from carbon free resources.  That number is expected to increase in the future.”

They formed a PG&E working group that is prepared to work with the city’s leadership and sustainability experts “to explore innovative partnerships to help the city achieve its energy goals.”

“While this is our preferred path to the next steps, we are committed to continuing to engage with the city, as conversations around the city’s evaluation of creating a publicly owned electric utility continuum,” Ms. Okelo-Odongo continued.  However, she warned, “Our facilities are not for sale.”

“If the city does decide to pursue this effort to acquire facilities we urge the council to take into serious consideration the cost and risk associated with such an effort,” she added.  She cited a 2006 study valuing PG&E facilities in all of Yolo County at $568 million.  “While a current detailed study has yet to be done, we anticipate that the value specific to Davis is higher than it was years ago.”

She also cited a report from December 10 that indicates “a far higher price to be paid if the city does go forward with acquiring PG&E’s lines.”  She added, “In addition, the report assumed that Davis while pursuing green power goals can buy power for less than the market price of power today.”

She then cited the experience of the city of Hercules which she said went this route only to have to bring PG&E back in to run its power.

Quantel Research Conducting PG&E-Related Opinion Research in Davis

On Monday night, we received two opinion research calls at 9:00 and 9:15 pm.  On the second call, we learned that Quantel Research was conducting opinion research in Davis, but declined to comment as to their purpose or who hired them.

Mike Warren, Director of Operations at Quantel Research, located in Ogden, Utah, confirmed they were polling in Davis, but declined to comment as to the nature of that polling.

The Vanguard was tipped off that the questions were PG&E-related.  Brandi Ehlers, PG&E Corporate Relations representative, told the Vanguard on Wednesday, “I have confirmed that we are not polling at this time in Davis, related to the City’s recent actions.”

However, the polling suggests that either PG&E or someone interested in representing PG&E commissioned this poll.  One respondent called it a “push-poll” and another informed us that the survey asked how the individual felt about the City of Davis buying out their power distribution facilities and starting its own municipal power company.

The pollsters also asked the individual how they felt about specific Davis politicians and unions.  The individual was asked to evaluate specific talking points such as the claim that the city would only save $4 million on this measure, implying it was not worth the risk, that going to a POU will not help climate change and that the city would have to rely on “dirty power” at first which will make it worse.

The survey asked about other issues in the city – health care, the budget.

It then circled back to PG&E, arguing that the POU research is based on flawed economic analysis that is over 10 years old and has been discredited.  It argued politicians were unpredictable and asked the respondent to agree “I don’t trust them to run our power,” noting that they have no experience running a power company.

They cited lack of environmental impact studies, and a projected cost of at least $25 million that will fall to the ratepayers.  They argued the city can’t meet state requirements for 33% of power coming from clean sources and that PG&E has done a good job for a long time while the city has no experience doing this.

Finally, they noted that UC Davis is the biggest customer for power in the city’s area, and will not agree to rate increases.  South San Joaquin tried this and they failed, and their effort has been tied up in the courts.

Again, PG&E has denied being behind this poll but clearly this is someone testing out arguments for opposition to the POU.

Below is a video of Kemble Pope and Alicia Okelo-Odongo addressing council:

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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81 Comments

  1. Michelle Millet

    A PG&E public relations representative was in attendance at Monday’s Natural Resource Commission meeting, although this item was not on the agenda. Apparently this is going to become a regular occurrence.

    1. David Greenwald

      The push is about saving money for the ratepayers, if the result is that the city has better options for green power, then great. solar certainly isn’t going to cost more and result in higher energy bills. neither is wind.

      1. growth issue

        You’re wrong. Why do you keep with that line of thinking when countries like Denmark and Germany with large amounts of renewable generation face the highest energy prices in the world. Britain’s electricity from wind farms costs twice as much as that from traditional sources and solar even more.

      2. Michelle Millet

        From what I understand by moving to a POU the city will have more control over where our power comes from. It will also allow us to more directly finically benefit from energy saving practices, which in some incidents we are unable to do with PG&E.

        As Mayor Krovoza pointed out in a recent discussion over street lamp replacement. There is no energy saving cost benefit to us offered by PG&E to use a “bi-level” lighting. So we are going with a less efficient model.

        a system that “uses about 20 percent of the energy of conventional parking lighting systems, yet provides better safety, reduces light pollution and makes less toxic waste.”

        http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=8943)

    2. darelldd

      We cannot afford to use “non-green” energy as we have in the past. Is the (seemingly) higher (up-front) cost of renewable energy our biggest concern here? Maybe today it is to some folks. But how about tomorrow? Clearly it is cheaper to discharge raw sewage into lakes, rivers and the oceans, right? That’s what we used to do. But today we pay more to treat our sewage because doing otherwise has much larger “not directly in my pocketbook” costs associated with it. Would you propose that we go back to discharging raw sewage because it is cheaper? The same is true with energy. We can keep dumping crap into our air and water, or we can do what’s less expensive in the long-run: Use renewables. We can afford “green” energy. What we can’t afford is using up our natural resources by throwing it away as pollution.

      I won’t speak for David G. about his “line of thinking.” But I will speak for my own situation: My home and automobile run on renewable energy. I know what the costs are for traditional energy as well as for renewables. I also am well aware of the public money that is spent on BOTH forms of energy. And I can tell you this: My currently free energy that I installed 12 years ago, and have paid off several years ago, is more affordable than continuously “renting” dirty energy.

      Come on by for a bucket of electrons any time. I make more than I use.

          1. growth issue

            And how much would that cost up front? How much farmland would have to be covered in order to deliver that much energy to Davis? What would be the overall cost analysis of bringing on such a system be compared to what we’re paying now? Sorry, but there are too many variables involved that have to be thoroughly vetted in order for us to bring on a green system just to make some local green activist zealots happy.

            Germans are feeling the costs:
            http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/high-costs-and-errors-of-german-transition-to-renewable-energy-a-920288.html

          2. David Greenwald

            I think you’re focusing on the wrong aspect of it, while Davis is arguing that it will result in greener energy production, if you read the staff presentation that I posted above, you will see that the driving factor is cost. The city believes it can save 20% per year on energy costs by going to a POU.

          3. growth issue

            And if they stick to that then maybe it’s doable, but if they take over the system with the goal of making it green then imo we are looking at higher costs than we would be paying using a mix of green and conventional sources like PGE is offering now.

          4. David Greenwald

            Again, I think it is important to see that the mention of greener energy is only listed in the staff presentation in passing. It does give Davis more say and autonomy, but this is really about finances.

          5. Jim Frame

            While I’m not familiar with the financial aspects of utility-scale solar, I do know that there’s a lot of it going in, including a 60- acre site on UCD land. I wouldn’t think anyone would be setting these up if the power is more expensive than what they get from the grid.

          6. SouthofDavis

            Jim wrote:

            > I wouldn’t think anyone would
            > be setting these up if the power
            > is more expensive than what they
            > get from the grid.

            Many of these are tax driven. As a thank you for big campaign contributions many in government have passed laws with big rebates and credits for solar so the after tax (aka after the rest of us pay for the gift) cost is less than the grid.

          7. growth issue

            Yes SOD, and many times institutions that are paying for things with other’s money don’t mind going green at a loss because they feel it makes them look good and green to the public.

          8. Tia Will

            GI

            This is one of the rare occasions in which I was agreeing with you. I would need to see all of the data, the up front costs, the long term anticipated benefits of “green technologies” before signing on to any particular plan. However, as always, we diverge once you start pretending that green technologies are “designed just to make some local green activist zealots happy”. No, these systems are being designed to promote a cleaner, more sustainable, healthier way of living. Like any other proposals, green energy proposals will have their pros and cons.

            But to just out of hand reject these proposals would be as counterproductive as to pretend that we know they are a panacea.

          9. John Baldry

            Good, balanced thoughts Tia. The purpose of the engagement is to gather the appropriate data, identify and quantify the up front costs, and lay out any long term anticipated benefits of “green technologies.”

            We can’t know whether this is a good ice or a bad idea unless we study it.

      1. Frankly

        Wait until you have to replace your panels. And by the way, not everyone can install panels in their little yards, and little house with little roofs shaded by big trees.

        And wait until you have to replace the batteries in your car. And how will they be disposed of?

        I’m not saying that as individuals we shouldn’t head toward green energy, and I applaud those that do even as they fail to do the full calculation of costs and environmental impacts; but just like for the harebrained idea to move away from incandescent bulbs without including the environmental impact of increased fluorescent mercury, we should stop pushing any green agenda on the rest of us until there is a full and comprehensive analysis of cost, risks and benefits.

        1. Davis Progressive

          so this is what i don’t understand, this is a proposal that davis believes can save it 20% on power costs, why are you and growth focused on the small portion that might look at better ways to utilize green power (which also could be a cost savings). makes me think your real purpose is not to push forward better policies that save the city money but rather to stir people up.

          1. John Baldry

            Mr. Issue, I agree with Mr. Progressive, the City proposal is not for replacing conventional power with green power, it is a proposal to stop putting wads of cash profits in the pockets of PG&E stockholders at our expense.

            I would think that a tightwad like you would want to save money wherever and whenever possible.

          2. Michelle Millet

            We are paying for green energy right now. That money is going to PG&E who is using it to meet their state mandated “green energy” requirements. The problem is they are not required to spend that money in Davis, and it would be fiscally stupid of them to spend it in Davis as our energy use is insignificant when compared to other jurisdictions they serve.

          3. growth issue

            That’s just it Frankly, isn’t the NRC involved in this? We know what their agenda is. Now if this isn’t all about making Davis go green at a cost to ratepayers and we really could see a 20% savings by having local control I’m all for it.

          4. Frankly

            Agreed. 20% savings and I am all in.

            More local control to enable the meddlers to drive up the cost of our energy to meet their social and environmental goals… now that I do NOT support.

          5. Michelle Millet

            Frankly is this just a knee jerk reaction because some environmentalist favor this option? I’m seriously asking have you looked into it?

            Davis is moving towards green energy sources anyway, having our own POU will let us do this for a much smaller price tag.

            Why pay PG&E to 4.3 million dollars so they can put up solar panels somewhere else, when we could use that money to invest in green energy that will directly benefit Davis?

        2. Michelle Millet

          Frankly have you looked at the report? DP already said this but a POU is not a move to green energy. It gives the city more flexibility to do so, and it keeps tax generated funds to do so within the city’s control. Right now the “green energy” taxes we pay PGand E are being used to subsidize green energy alternatives in other communities. I’d prefer we maintained control over these funds, moving to a POU would allow us to do so.

          1. Michelle Millet

            More specific information:

            Each year Davis resident and businesses pay a surcharge of about $4.3 million for public purpose programs such as renewable energy and energy efficiency; but under the Status Quo, have no control over the use of these funds, which might be spent outside of Davis on projects that might not benefit the Davis community.

          2. John Baldry

            Michelle, the $4.3 million is just the beginning. PG&E shareholders are guaranteed a specific rate of return on their investments by the California Public Utility Commission. That guarantee is calculated using worst case scenarios. When the worst case doesn’t happen and PG&E makes profits that are in excess of what was projected, those excess profits never come back to the ratepayers. They go to the PG&E stockholders as a “bonus.”

            In a POU the ratepayers would see those excesses come back in the form of rebates and credits.

        3. darelldd

          Really, Frankly?

          Your grasp of the “soundbite” FUD surrounding solar and EVs is impressive. There’s no sense in discussion if you plan to just parrot the same, tired “anti-green-anything” mantra. Sadly, it sounds like you already have all the answers you need here. But if not, please let me know if you’d like to learn anything about solar or EVs – I am willing to share my extensive, first-hand experience and knowledge with both. The instant dismissal of anything that “not everybody can install” would be comical, if it did not have tragic consequences. No reason to continue that discussion unless you’d like to dig a bit deeper beyond negative headlines.

          > “we should stop pushing any green agenda on the rest of us until there is a full and comprehensive analysis of cost, risks and benefits”

          It sounds as if you are OK with pushing your brown agenda on the rest of us while we wait for those studies. In the meantime, could you show me the comprehensive analysis of cost, risks and benefits of continuing to waste our resources while polluting our air and water? Have you studied the cost, risks and benefits of, say, gasoline usage? Have you taken those findings to heart? And are you still burning gasoline with that knowledge?

          Being afraid of anything different simply stuns is into inaction. There’s got to be a middle ground somewhere. Sitting here on the status quo that we KNOW is destructive is as dangerous of a choice as moving ahead with something we’re not as experienced with.

        4. darelldd

          > We’re talking public energy utilities here, not about the solar panels on your roof.

          I was merely responding to your implication and fear that “green energy costs more.” I agree that I got off track a bit with my personal “green energy” experience.

          Summary: It may appear that renewable energy costs more in the short-term, and rarely does in the long term. It only costs more if we summarily ignore the external costs (social, political, health, environmental AND financial) associated with traditional energy sources with which we’re currently so comfortable.

        5. darelldd

          > I applaud those that do [use green energy] even as they fail to do the full calculation of costs and environmental impacts <

          The applause is deafening in its silence, and pretty well negated by the implication of ignorance.

          How do you encourage people to use green energy, while at the same time imply that these same people haven't invested the effort into thinking all the way through the implications of their actions? You applaud them for not thinking. Have you considered that those of us who have switched to alternative energy generation may have done so BECAUSE we've studied the destructive impacts of inaction, and "staying the course" with traditional energy?

  2. Davis Progressive

    so if pg&e claims to not have paid for the poll, who did? polls aren’t exactly cheap and there is few players locally that will pay the $20k or more to do so?

    the other point is the chamber poll – that was a push poll if i ever saw it. one-sided presentation of facts on all issues. poorly constructed? which makes you wonder about the centaur group if that’s the caliber of work by kemble pope. here’s the critical point: he presents in the pg&e question the costs to the city without posting the readily available information on the potential savings to businesses. how can you generate an accurate poll omitting that CRITICAL information?

  3. Mr. Toad

    PG&E says their Yolo system is worth $550 million or 3% of their $18.7 billion market cap yet it only serves less than 200,000 or 1.3 % of their 15 million customers. Either PG&E is vastly over stating the value of their assets, vastly undervalued by Wall Street or foolish not to sell the Davis assets if that is their true value.

    1. SouthofDavis

      Toad wrote:

      > PG&E says their Yolo system is worth $550 million or 3% of their $18.7
      > billion market cap yet it only serves less than 200,000 or 1.3 % of their
      > 15 million customers.

      Davis homes have been close to 50% above the average home price in California for years so it makes sense that the Yolo County system would be worth more than “average” (and far more than the systems in Modoc, Shasta and Lassen County with almost no people and almost no growth).

      1. Mr. Toad

        Depends on the condition of the infrastructure, the density of the population and the energy used by rate class. Housing prices may be an apples to oranges comparison. The reality is that it is in PG &E’s interest to overstate the value of their infrastructure. Perhaps someone knows another way to evaluate what their system here is worth.

      2. John Baldry

        SouthofDavis, your “average” home value analysis makes no sense. How does the market value of the typical Davis home affect the costs PG&E incurred to build the system infrastructure? A mile of overhead wire in Yolo County will cost the same as a mile of overhead wire in any of the other counties you list. Cost is cost, and is independent of the revenue generating potential of those wires.

        1. SouthofDavis

          John wrote:

          > SouthofDavis, your “average” home value analysis makes no sense.

          The “average” person in Davis (that can afford the higher “average” home price) has more money and uses more power (since we have a higher than “average” number of Apple iDevices and PEVs connected to the grid every night).

          > A mile of overhead wire in Yolo County will cost the same as a
          > mile of overhead wire in any of the other counties you list.

          Building a new house will also cost about the same in a rural county.

          > Cost is cost

          Cost is not “value”. It costs as much to build out a vacant retail space in to a bar all over CA, but guess what business would sell for more, the bar a cross the street from UCD or a bar in a town with 200 people…

          1. John Baldry

            SouthofDavis has identified above the key negotiating point. Are the assets to be sold at their replacement value or at their income generating value. Because PG&E is a regulated utility and their product isn’t priced using the supply-demand curve, the fixed assets that they would be selling to the POU don’t generate additional income just because more power is delivered over those fixed assets.

            In today’s world almost everyone has a computer and a TV, so I would be surprised if the electrical use per person in Davis is higher than the electrical use per person elsewhere. I would actually expect it to be lower because Davis can afford to replace their old energy inefficient appliances with newer enegy efficient appliances.

  4. Davis Progressive

    i still don’t get why no one is concerned about kemble pope’s intentions here. is he trying to carry pg&e’s water because he wants business for centaur when pg&e runs a campaign against this?

    1. John Baldry

      Very good question davis progressive. Looking at the video, it is hard to tell whether Mr. Pope is speaking on behalf of himself or on behalf of the Chamber members. If he was speaking on behalf of the Chamber members, who in their poll responses said they needed to know more, then why wouldn’t he have been expressing the kind of comment that Tia Will expressed above, “I would need to see all of the data, the up front costs, the long term anticipated benefits of “green technologies” before signing on to any particular plan. But to just out of hand reject these proposals would be as counterproductive as to pretend that we know they are a panacea.”

      1. SouthofDavis

        Michelle wrote:

        > Do city business’ really think a move to a POU is bad? And if so why?

        Every business owner I’ve talked to does not want a POU. The cost of buying the system and going “green” (to make most of the people in Davis that want green power happy) will increase rates.

        Most non business owners in Davis that care about the environment are OK paying a little more for “green” power, but an increase in rates in this (improving but still slow) economy can kill the profits of many business.

          1. SouthofDavis

            The problem with the “report” is that there is not a deal to buy the system from PG&E yet and the 20% rate drop is like a “report” for a “green taxi” service in town that promises 20% lower fares (assumes that Nissan sill sell them a fleet of electric cars for $5K each and that the city will give them free power).

          2. Michelle Millet

            As I understand it, The 20% savings is not predicted to come from savings made by moving to “green” energy. It’s from a reduction in overhead cost we make to PG&E.

          3. Michelle Millet

            Another example of overhead we are paying PG&E that does not benefit our community directly.

            Compared to Davis, there has been significantly higher average customer growth on the other parts of the PG&E electric distribution system. This growth has required PG&E to spend significant amounts of money to meet the demands of its growing customer base system-wide. The costs for the additional system build-out were charged to all customers, including customers in Davis, which grew much less. From 2004 through 2012, PG&E added 319,168 customers, or a 6.4% growth. This is more than twice the rate of customer growth in Davis.

          4. David Greenwald

            Why are you buying into PG&E’s campaign claims? What makes you think the city didn’t factor that into their analysis?

          5. Michelle Millet

            From report:

            PG&E administers and operates a vast system-wide distribution network. PG&E charges all its customers distribution fees that pay for the entire distribution system. PG&E may have some engineering economies of scale advantages, but the empirical evidence shows that, bottom line, mid-sized California POUs deliver service at prices significantly lower than PG&E. The costs and inefficiencies of a huge bureaucracy, high executive compensation, and PG&E shareholder profits may well exceed any savings from economies of size.

  5. SODA

    I wondered why Dan Wolk was so unsure about the item since he seemed sure when it has come up before. As with the Mace curve issue, I thought Joe was clear in his statement of the history and how it did not come out of the blue….despite Dan’s hesitation and appearance that this was brand new idea as Kemble Pope stated. Do your homework!

  6. Mark West

    We can’t afford to maintain our current infrastructure, yet we are all hot and bothered to buy more. We have a significant deficit for the current year, but think nothing of spending $600,000 to consider buying more infrastructure that we cannot afford to maintain. We already have a payroll that is outstripping our revenues, and are looking to enlarge it to run a utility that we have no experience running.

    Yep…sounds like a great idea!

      1. Mark West

        David:

        I have no idea what 20% of our current bill is. IF we actually could save 20%, it might be a good investment depending on how much we have to spend to buy the infrastructure, and how much we will have to spend to maintain it. In addition, that level of savings at this point is nothing more than a marketing estimate designed to keep everyone interested.

        What I do know is that the City is currently in a very poor fiscal condition and should be focused on cutting expenses and raising revenues, not spending money we don’t have on speculative ventures. Put a comprehensive fiscal plan in place first, then go looking for more ways to spend money.

        1. Michelle Millet

          Maybe I’m reading this wrong but this statement seems to imply that the 20% savings takes into account the cost of buying and maintaining the infrastructure.

          Under a POU option, the City would acquire or replace PG&E’s distribution
          network of poles, wires, transformers, and meters. This analysis puts the cost for
          Davis at about $20 million. Although PG&E will seek more, $20 million is a
          reasonable estimate of the actual cost that would be set by the CPUC or a court if the City and PG&E cannot agree upon a price. Davis would need to finance an
          acquisition of PG&E’s assets or new replacement facilities. Davis would need to hireemployees or outsource necessary activities like tree cutting, billing, and call
          centers. Taking into account all of the relevant factors, this Report demonstrates a
          standalone municipal utility could reduce the costs Davis’ residents and businesses
          pay relative to PG&E by about 20%.

        2. John Baldry

          Mr. West, when they look at this possibility, I definitely hope they look at the possibility of outsourcing the day to day maintenance rather than assembling a staff of our own, with all the attendant costs that brings. Outsourcing to SMUD might make a whole lot of sense.

      1. Mark West

        If you hadn’t noticed we are teetering on bankruptcy, so maybe we should act like we are trying to be fiscally responsible. Why don’t we try paying our existing bills first Michelle, before we run out looking for new ways to spend the communities money.

          1. SouthofDavis

            Don wrote:

            > Maybe Davis should just take the $600,000, build solar
            > panels and sell the power back into the grid.

            Are you OK covering farm land with a “solar farm”?

          2. John Baldry

            The sites talked about for such an installation are not farmland. The old landfill on Pole Line Road, where the existing PVUSA location is is one of the most discussed sites.

          3. darelldd

            > Are you OK covering farm land with a “solar farm”?<

            Are you OK with converting farm land to a "paved parking lot?" Or roads, or houses, or man-made anything that you're currently using?

            I would be against installing a solar farm over ag land – that isn't even an option I'd consider. There are so many more benign ways to accomplish this – distributed energy production comes to mind immediately.

            We don't run our homes on fairy dust. We either do without power, or we try and get it from the least damaging source. Far too much land has already been destroyed in the pursuit of cheap, polluting energy. We can (and have to) change that.

        1. darelldd

          > Why don’t we try paying our existing bills first Michelle, before we run out looking for new ways to spend the communities money. <

          That PG&E is willing to spend countless million$ to keep us as their customer is a pretty good indication that the profit they make from us is significant. It seems to me that it would be in our city's best financial interests to keep that profit locally.

          If not for making a bunch of money from us, why would PG&E be soooo desperate to keep us? Do you think they have OUR best interest in mind?

  7. Day Man

    It’s great that the Chamber is getting involved in this. I don’t think I agree with them, but they’re doing their job. They’re a part of the community, and they deserve a seat at the table. PG&E, on the other hand, shouldn’t have a seat at the table. I can’t believe some people are eating up their claims. They spent millions in 2010 trying to get Prop 16 passed, and the sole purpose of Prop 16 was to guarantee their monopoly and stop places like Davis from doing this. Of course they’ll come up with every possible argument against a POU. If I had a client who was thinking about letting me go, I would also warn them of the pitfalls of firing me. But I know any smart client would take my claims with a heavy dose of salt.

  8. Mark West

    When the question involves investing in economic development – which will bring new money into town – the argument is we shouldn’t do anything until someone first proves that it will ‘pencil out.’ When it comes to speculating on a POU, which will cost us all a great deal of money up front to purchase the infrastructure, the argument is ‘let’s spend a million dollars to find out if it ‘pencils out.’

    Why is the opportunity for the City to make money through economic development considered suspect, but the opportunity to spend a lot of money on new infrastructure is such a certainty that we are willing to throw a million dollars at it before we know if it is even feasible?

    1. David Greenwald

      I don’t understand what you are calling for here. What level of proof are you demanding. The city did a study, spent a lot of money on it. The study made these findings. What do you consider proof and why does it seem you are overreacting to PG&E’s counter-campaign?

      1. Mark West

        You have missed the point entirely David. The problem is not that we did a study, the problem is that we didn’t invest a similar amount on economic development, and many of the posters here praising spending a million dollars to find out if the POU will pencil out (we still don’t know that answer) don’t want to spend a penny on economic development. One will make money for us with little or no tax money being risked to make it happen (economic development), and the other might eventually save us money, but only after committing to spend hundreds of millions on purchasing the infrastructure.

        Given our current fiscal situation, we should have spent the money and staff time on increasing revenues through economic development, not speculating on some far off possibility of eventually saving some money (maybe).

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