Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “MID electric rates”

MID’s Tim O’Laughlin Withholds Information on Public Information Request

By Emerson Drake

Apparently MID’s attorney feels he can get paid for doing half a job, okay maybe a third of his job.  In my opinion he’s bilking his employer by not completing his assignment properly.  He’s apparently churning for a second pay-day for doing the same work.

I made a Public Records Request at a recent Board meeting for the amounts of the falling water charges that are on our bills in the last 10 to 15 years.

Here is the request and the response.

October 26, 2012


WesternPalms@aol.com (via Email Only)

Emerson Drake

Re: California Public Records Act Request

Dear Mr. Drake:

On October 16, 2012, Modesto Irrigation District received your Public Records Act

Request which was made verbally during the Board meeting, requesting the following


“With regard to the falling water charge that’s on the bill, I would like to request

information regarding the amounts that we’ve been charged for the last 10 or 15 years and the

legality of it.”

In accordance with Government Code section 6253, MID will comply with your request

to the extent that the writings you have requested are not privileged or otherwise exempt from

production under the California Public Records Act, or other applicable law.


Below are the falling water charges for the last five years:

Falling Water  Charge

2008                                     2009                                2010                        2011

$5,681,470                   $7,063,695             $8,165,250          $10,158,720  



Should you have any questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to

contact this office at (209) 526-7388.


Tim O’Laughlin

Interim General Counsel

The following link is the pdf response  from Tim O’Laughlin.



Is MID Scaring New Businesses Away from Modesto

By Emerson Drake

One of our contributors sent these electricity rates to us as a comparison of what other communities pay.  The numbers may surprise you.

• Modesto Irrigation District — $134.53

• Pacific Gas & Electric — $133.92

 • San Diego Gas & Electric — $129.58

• Southern California Edison — $128.26

• Roseville Electric — $106.43

• L.A. Dept. of Water & Power — $100.68

• Sacramento Municipal Utility District — $91.80

• Turlock Irrigation District — $91.17

Now we know why businesses are looking in another direction.  And we know why families are moving out of Modesto.


MID is Ignoring and Delaying Public Information Requests

By Enerson Drake

In order to obtain information from  public agencies  they otherwise would prefer to keep removed from the public eye, we sometimes find it necessary to make Public Information Requests.  Officially it’s known as California Code 6250-6270.

It requires public agencies to respond to the request within 10 working days and has an emergency extension of two weeks if invoked.

But MID Attorney Tim O’Laughlin reads the code differently than any other attorney we’ve encountered.  He seems to believe MID can ignore, purposefully misunderstand and  delay indefinately answering questions put to it, and basically flaunts the regulations with complete disregard to the law.

We’ve had Public Record Requests in since October that the MID legal staff refuses to acknowledge.  When a request was made on November 16, 2011  for three pieces of information, we received only one on December 19, and that was after we prompted them yet again.  The second was pushed off indefinitely ( Tim O’Laughlin  basically said you’ll get it when we feel like giving it to you),  the third piece requested at the same time was dutifully ignored.

When we reminded MID of the second and third items, attorney Tim O’Laughlin then has attempted to restart the clock.

Is he working in conjuction with MID General Manager Allen Short and the three members of the old guard, Tom Van Groningen, Paul Warda, and Glenn Wild?  These are the men responsible for MID’s continuing mismanagement and have all voted for the last rate hikes of 7.5% (last year) and the recent 2% increase.

MID is owned by the ratepayers but these men have run it into the ground and need to be stopped.

This delay of information should not and will not be tolerated by the public.

Here is a link to the  California  Code: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=gov&group=06001-07000&file=6250-6270

Modesto Irrigation District Meeting: The Changing of the Guard

By Emerson Drake

Newly elected MID Directors Larry Byrd and Nick Blom took their respective seats on the dais today.  For the many who have never been to a MID meeting the dais is U shaped with the two end seats facing each other.

While they don’t have officially designated seating, in days gone by they actually sat by the number of the district they represent.  But with the seating of the two new Board members, Glen Wild, Division 1, apparently felt the need to sit next to his mentor/advisor in all things MID, related Tom Van Groningen who has been sitting on the far right.  Van Groningen, Division 3 used to be in the middle but when Paul Warda was elected Board President a year ago, Paul assumed the center seat.

 Hey, Wait a Darn Minute. Is Our Electricity Costing More then Necessary?

The quiet yet controversial discussion revolving around MID’s unusual way of approaching their “green” portfolio is curious.  Currently MID has renewable energy at 27% of our generating needs and that will increase to 29% when the McHenry solar acreage comes on line.  By law we aren’t required to have even 20% until 2013 and 28% until 2016.  While all of us appreciate the head start toward mandated goals, it means we as ratepayers are being required by MID to pay more for our electricity than actually necessary.  To put MID’s energy costs in perspective, hydro electricity is .03 kwh.  Gas turbine generation costs are .06-07kwh. The recently negotiated solar costs are .14-17kwh and escalating as time goes by depending on which numbers you quote

These surpluses do roll over but they only roll for 36 months. These credits are nice but MID didn’t offer information to show how much we actually benefit as these credits get “stale” and fall off,  and are lost.  With our excessive “head start” the extra money MID ratepayers are  now paying will be wasted and lost. 

I have to admit their story sounds nice until you sit back and think about it.  Then “Hey wait a darn minute” comes out of your mouth.

The decision was made to sign a contract with Fayez Sarofim and Company to transfer about $33 million dollars from under G.E. guidance since it was felt that the investments G.E had been overseeing had been underperforming for the past two years.

A squabble over the Don Pedro Recreation Agency’s (DPRC) desire to raise overnight fees on weekends and to almost double the cost of going to the “Fireworks Day display” has been brewing for about four weeks. Former Board member Cecil Hensley had been against the rate increases and Larry Byrd is continuing his stand against raising the rates.

It first appeared it was going to be a 3-2 vote with Byrd and Blom against and Warda, Wild, and Van Groningen in favor.  But at the last minute Van Groningen voted against the increase and requested staff member Bill Ketchner to approach the DPRC and attempt to talk with them again.  This is interesting because Cecil Hensley, who Larry succeeded when Cecil retired, was a voting member and MID’s representative to the Dom Pedro Rec. Agency Board of Control and it was expected Larry would assume the role as MID’s torch bearer.

The two members of the public who spoke were against the rate increase.  One speaker noted that other the members of the  DPRC,  who are  Turlock Irrigation District (TID) and the City and County of San Francisco, don’t seem to have a problem with raising the rates on the weekend campers without exhausting cost cutting efforts first since weekends are usually booked close to capacity.  And that San Francisco was known for their “Tax and Spend” approach to financial problems and hoped MID would stand against taking the easy way out.

In a final bit of business for the year, Tom Van Groningen was elected Board President for the next year and Van Groningen’s sycophant and rubberstamp, Glen Wild, will be the Vice President.

John Duarte Confirms he was Recruited by the CommonWealth for the MID Board

We had said all along that John Duarte was recruited by the usual gang to control the MID Board of Directors. Last night John freely admitted it was Joe Muratore’s (of NSP2 infamy) friend Chris Tyler who asked him to be a party to what many are calling a n elaborate charade

His opponent Larry Byrd has been a regular at MID meeting for the past several years where Duarte admits he’s a Johnny come lately who never came to meetings prior to his “talk” with Chris and has seldom appeared at meeting since his declaring his candidacy.

In the last MID election we had another “recruit” foisted on us. His name was Glenn Wild. Mr. Wild has voted with Tom VanGroningen on every vote since assuming office.

The sad part to this story is Tom Van Groningen is one of the main architects in our rates skyrocketing through the roof. He and his henchmen (Warda, Wild, Kidd and Hendsley) have allowed Allen Short to run the MID as a personal fiefdom with himself as king.

The strewn carcasses in their wake include MountainHouse, a geothermal project that cost MID Millions of dollars, and the Four Cities expansion project. All of these “projects” have cost the MID ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

What can’t be explained is why the CommonWealth group along with others continually pick losers to represent them and us the ratepayers. .

They seem to believe having “their boys” in control is more important than having the right people at the helm of the U.S.S. MID.

Maybe they should consider being in control isn’t as important as getting it right.

Maybe they should call the captain of the Titanic for advice.

So we know after listening to the candidates speak at the Tea Party Patriot forum last night, John Kidd should be part of MID’s past and not its future. And that we can’t afford to have the CommonWealth’s flavor of the month John Duarte to reach beyond his grasp.

Larry Byrd and Nick Blom are definitely the type of stand out candidates we like to see running for the MID Board of Directors..

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