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PG&E, SFPUC, and even stranger things

•••••••••• January 26, 2023 ••••••••••

PG&E. Most know by now that the City, via its Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), seeks to kick PG&E in the keester right out of town by condemning (taking over) its electrical assets. Public Power is part of progressive utopia. The City offered to buy the assets (for $2.5 billion) but PG&E said go fly a kite. So (can you guess?) the City sued. It asks the state PUC (CPUC) to set a value on the assets. PG&E resists. There are all sorts of issues about who and how and who pays for the expert opinion(s). It's a laborious process. It crawls along, and if our progressive Board of Supervisors should ever get a chance, you can bet that SF is all in for kicking PG&E out.

SF plans to hire the knowledgeable and experienced PG&E workers who can keep the electricity flowing. PG&E is sure to have other ideas, at least for their best employees.

At present SF, through CleanPowerSF, a part of the SFPUC (San Francisco Public Utilities Commission) supplies electrical power (mostly purchased and resold, some generated) through PG&E lines, with PG&E also doing the billing.

PG&E has asked that its assets be valued using replacement cost (less depreciation) not original cost and has asked for numerous other adds: severance damages, going concern value, reduced economies of scale, reduction of PCIA* fees, and more.

###

Flooding with Falsity.

quote marks

The SFPUC deals with stormwater, preventing or mitigating flooding. The Commission sets policy at SFPUC. Yet the article never makes the connection between Ajami and the Commission of which she's President. In the article, Ajami critiques how the City does it.”

Recently a major, though not daily, newspaper in town published an article about dealing with stormwater. The gist is that SF does so badly.

Newsha Ajami
Newsha Ajami, President
SFPUC Commission

The source of the article is Newsha Ajami. Ajami is President of the SFPUC Commission. The SFPUC deals with stormwater, preventing or mitigating flooding. The Commission sets policy at SFPUC. Yet the article never makes the connection between Ajami and the Commission of which she's President. In the article, Ajami critiques how the City does it. Is it not relevant that she is the leader of the five-member group that guides and sets policy for the agency responsible?

What this illustrates is that reporting no longer aims to inform; it aims to anger. Anger is the emotion perhaps most sought: Outrageous! "Confirmation bias" is constantly baited; the reader thinks: "yeah, once again the City f—s up; I knew it." (More on confirmation bias in the next section below.)

Beware of becoming addicted to anger. Social media is one addicting vector. You can feel a rush of anger many times a day on it. Ain't it awful? But all media has learned the value of anger. It works. You'll engage, remember, and likely return.

The SFPUC is spending over $600 million to deal with flooding. Long ago it formed the plans it is executing–long before Ajami showed up on the scene. Certainly, there's room for criticism, but might we ask for and hope for fair and objective reporting that tries to tell the whole truth?

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AI: Artificial Idiocy.

Book Cover.

"Confirmation bias" is in the news. Humans like to be right. We seek out sources of information that confirm what we "know." We've done so forever. But before the internet and AI there were fewer sources of information: a few newspapers, a small multitude of news magazines. Today there are countless sources of information at one's fingertips. Many of these use so-called AI to feed you what you like, what confirms what you already "know," and makes you feel good. This addicts you: that little buzz of "see, I knew I was right" is a psychological reward. And, it makes us all idiots, or at least ignoramuses. Why wrestle with contrary information and opinion when we can have our "intelligence" confirmed?

You probably can't avoid Artificial Idiocy and confirmation bias but keeping it firmly in mind at least mitigates the harm. Try.

###

Aging in San Francisco.

In some ways aging in our city is eased. Home values rise. Reverse mortgages or home loans can provide funds.

But increasingly aging in the city is harder. First, there is the attitude—resentment combined with entitlement—of the Millennial generation. Your correspondent learned this firsthand when he joined the Board of his neighborhood association during a year when dues increases were on the table. Millennials dominated the Board. Little or no sympathy for older members on fixed income was the rule.

Moreover, there are the policies of the Millennial set. The burden of tolerating crime and disorder falls more heavily on the elder set. Older folk are more likely to be victims of crime. In our city, there is always a chance of tangling with the crazies wandering about the streets. As we age we are less able to avoid entanglement. What do you do when a crazy hangs onto the side mirror of your car? Better get that right, or get lucky, or you're in for, well, who knows what trouble?

Then there are the multitude of lanes and lines and signs. The City changes these around constantly. Confusion ensues.

Older folk may make more trips to the pharmacy. Drug stores? Closed. Lines: long. The Millennials will say: just order online. Yeah, that's another thing the aged are not so good at.

Total it all up, and SF isn't shaping up as the easiest place to age.

* Here's what google says: "What is the PCIA? The purpose of the PCIA charge is to ensure that both PG&E customers and those who have left PG&E service to purchase electricity from other providers pay for the above market costs for electric generation resources that were procured by PG&E on their behalf."

See, to me, and I'll guess to most, it's semi-hopeless to try to quickly explain or understand. If your teacher bought the class supplies in advance of the start of school, and if a portion of the class were to pick up and leave, the teacher would be out some amount (assuming the supplies were not just as useful next year). The PCIA charge is recompense for that kind of loss.

Steve Lawrence is a Westside resident and SF Public Utility Commission stalwart. Feedback: lawrence@westsideobserver.com

January 26, 2023

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