Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “MID”

George Petrulakis Bills MID $28,852.50 for July More Ratepayer Money Down the Drain

By Emerson Drake

The situation at the Modesto Irrigation District is getting worse by the day. More Brown Act violation.  More Public Information Act requests unanswered.  And now we’re paying a lawyer/ lobbyist/opinion maker another $28,852.50 in July to work against the ratepayers best interest.  We have expanded our request to include the invoices presented to MID by Mr. Petrulakis to discover exactly what he’s billing MID for.

Here is MID latest response to my requests.

0_v1_PRA_Response_to_Emerson_Drake_dated_August_22__2012

A Recent Update

The legal Department at MID just informed me they would not be releasing any of the invoice details naming attorney client priviledge.

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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

Residential Customers pay 82% more for Electricity than Industrial Customers

By Emerson Drake

Yes I know it’s a surprise for most people but if you pay more than $100 dollars a month you are paying almost twice what industrial customers pay.

Ok, so you want the specific breakdown? Here it is:

Industrial customers  pay $0.085 per KWH.

Home customers  start paying at $0.1367 KWH for the first 500 KWH (kilowatt hours) which equals the first $68.35 of your electric bill.

From there on they charge you $0.1498 KWH or 82% more than industrial customers pay.

Commercial customers pay $0.121 KWH, so residential is 73% more than commercial.

Literally, everyone else pays less than the average residential user.  Now there are breaks for low income and medical customers but residential users pay for that, too.

MID retail revenues come to approximately $300M.  Of the $300M, Residential pays $133M, Commercial $87M, and Industrial pays $60M.

So while residential users only consume 32% of the total electricity sold they pay for 44%.

Since all of the money MID collects is thrown into the pot to pay their bills, basically residential sales are helping to subsidize all of the rest of MID business.

Now don’t forget the monthly $12.50 ‘user’ fee they charge just to have a line to your home.  And it’s charged even if you don’t buy electricity from them. And there are a lot of residential users 92,160 vs 19,219. We are the people electing the MID Board and yet we are the ones paying the most.

Totals of revenue vs power consumption

Residential:    $132,690,000M         893,956 KWH

Commercial:  $ 87,000,000M          726,854 KWH

Industrial:       $ 66,503,000M          786,935 KWH

Other:             $12,868,000M          120,286 KWH

For this we can thank longtime MID Board members Tom Van Groningen and Paul Warda along with MID General Manager Allen Short. During their time on the Board we went from owing less than $100Million to an astronomical amount of $1.2Billion Dollars.

The term mismanagement just doesn’t fully do justice in describing their actions during this time.

The following is the MID report I pulled the information for this article.

MIDAR2009-FINAL[1]

A Short but Contentious MID Meeting Today

By Emerson Drake

There was an early announcement saying agenda Item 8 was removed and postponed due to Glen Wild’s absence.  Item 8 being the one Allen Short is pushing to cast in stone what he calls past practices of the Board.  Unfortunately, at the end of the meeting the Board decided to insert a “special” meeting now scheduled for next week, which is before the two new Board members take their seats.

 

Board member elect Larry Byrd quietly asked the Board to consider delaying this particular decision until after the two new members take their seats in December.  The Board did not officially respond to his request.  After all Allen Short couldn’t tell them what to think, at least not in public.

 

The Board has been playing fast and loose with their past policy regarding the public comment period.  This is from their Agenda and is present on all of their agendas.

 

Public Comment Time: Because these are non-agenda matters, generally no discussion or comment by the Board should be expected, except to properly refer the matter for review as appropriate.  But no action will be taken at this meeting.

 

Yet for two weeks in a row the Board has waited until a member of the public has been seated before responding caustically.  While it’s nice to see the Board do something other than sit there stone faced, waiting until the audience member sits down to respond and then said audience member isn’t allowed to refute the Board member, General Manager or Board Council, doesn’t allow reasonable discourse.  If anyone on the dais decided to respond to input from the public, the public should be allowed to follow-up if they so desire. After all, this is the public’s meeting, isn’t it?  When I tried to follow-up on an issue, Paul Warda, MID Board President, warned me to remain silent or be removed from the meeting by an armed guard if any further outbursts were made.

 

Despite the claims of MID Board Attorney Tim O’Laughlin that a slur (suggesting that responses weren’t made on a timely basis) was made against his office regarding timely Public Information Request responses, a Public Information Request made four weeks ago during a meeting remains unanswered.

 

When it came to the matter of MID Board members not having their own email addresses, Cecil Hensley proudly told everyone he doesn’t even own a computer.  Thank you for your service, Mr. Hensley but personally I prefer someone I can get in touch with on a timely basis.  The only email address available to the public on MID’s website for the Board is board@mid.org  and it’s under the Board Secretary’s designation.

 

It’s obvious that citizens who wish to communicate with the MID Board are being inhibited and their concerns to the office holders that they elected, are being screened by Allen Short.

 

Board –Staff Linkage Policy BL-3 The Board Secretary shall: c) Receive and disseminate Board Communications.  This includes emails from the public which she gives to G.M. Allen Short just before the meetings and he passes out as meeting goers have witnesses time and time again.  Allen Short begged to differ regarding the email statement by the public but this item would seem to address the comment in its entirety.

 

For a long time now the Board, especially Director Tom Van Groningen has been misleading the public regarding the “special lower rate schedules” or discounts. These   discounts give lower rates to companies using off peak electricity they don’t offer to the public. And yet in turn the residential user foots the bill when an industrial user doesn’t cut back during peak periods. These discounts aren’t available to the residential electricity user, so in essence residential ratepayers have been subsidizing some of the businesses in the MID electric territory for some time now.

 

It looks like we’ll have to wait for the agenda to come out on Friday to find out if the Resolution regarding Board Governance Process and Board Staff-Linkage will be voted on.

 

But since approving the two resolutions are the main reason for the meeting, it appears the old Board will put its rubber stamp on Allen Shorts request.

More MID Deceit…A Look at MID Rate Increases

By Dave Thomas

Good morning.

There have been 13 rate increases since 2001, or in the last 11 years, and this next one will be the 14thincrease to the rate payers in the same 11 years.

 

                   I have to tell you, though, John, that sometimes I fear that the true harmful economic impact of these insidiously “modest” cost increases is not appreciated.  Today’s story quoted a ratepayer as complaining that we have had rate increases of “86.25% in 10 years”.  I think I am being kind when I say, “That is not quite accurate”.

 

                   You can see by the attached MID rate increase summary, that the actual cost of electricity billed to ratepayers is substantially more than 86%.  We went to our tax records and pulled out every bill we paid in years 1998 through 2004, and recorded the starting rate, each rate increase, then compared those rates to our October bill.  If you look closely at the lowest rate actually charged, it is the Winter Rate of 1998, and the rate was $.0602, or 6.02 cents per Kilowatt hour.  The current rate actually charged occurred on the Summer Rate of 2011.  That rate is $.1808, or 18.08 cents per Kilowatt hour.  This 18 cents is, however, not the whole story, because MID, in its wisdom also added a flat rate of $12.50, thus increasing the costs by another $150 per year to every rate payer.  Moreover, the City of Modesto’s 6% Utility Tax was imposed on every rate increase, and last month MID sent over $1 Million dollars in Utility Tax to the City.

 

                   Let’s do the rest of the math.  If a ratepayer paid $100 a month electricity bill in 2001, the total COST of electricity would now be $264.54 (including the tax).  If that same ratepayer’s monthly summer cost was $200 in 2001, the rate increases published in today’s story would increase his monthly cost to $502.37.  AND the City would charge him another $30.14; the total monthly bill would be $532.51.

 

                   Thank you very much, Dave

MID ELECTRICAL RATES, 1998 THROUGH 2011

                                                SUMMER RATES                              WINTER RATES

1998                1ST 500 KWH             .0727                                                   .0602

                        OVER 500 KWH        .0797                                                   .0661

1999                SAME RATES AS 1998

2000                RATES NOT DISCLOSED

2001                RATES NOT DISCLOSED

2002                FLAT RATE INTRODUCED AT $12.50

                        1ST 5OO KWH           .0784                                                   .0649

                                                            .0860                                                   .0713

2003                FLAT RATE $12.50

                        1ST 500 KWH             .0879                                                   .0728

                        OVER 500 KWH        .0964                                                   .0799

2004                FLAT RATE $12.50

                        1ST 500 KWH             .0962                                                   .0797

                        OVER 500 KWH        .1055                                                   .0874

2011                FLAT RATE $12.50

                        1ST 500 KWH             .1649                                                   .1367

                        OVER 500 KWH        .1808                                                   .1498

______________________________________________________________________________

IN THE 6 YEARSFROM 1998 AND 2003, THE RATES INCREASED BY

                        1ST 500 KWH             .0152                                                   .0126

                        OVER 599 KWH        .0237                                                   .0138

IN THE 8 YEARSFROM 2003 AND 2011, THE RATES INCREASED BY

                        1ST 500 KWH             .0770                                                   .0639

                        OVER 500 KWH        .0841                                                   .0699

When I look at these numbers, I have to ask, just when did Allen Shortbecome the boss at MID?

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