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Seniors Get Help To Apply For Expanded CalFresh Benefits And More Local News

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CalFresh, the state’s food assistance program, makes a push to get low-income seniors signed up. Plus, the governor's office releases potential fixes for California's DMV troubles. And SDG&E moves San Diegans to time-of-use plans in response to a changing grid.

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Wednesday, July 24th I'm Deb Welsh and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. CalFresh makes a push to get low income. Seniors signed up at SDG and D is switching customers over to time of use energy plans.

Speaker 2: 00:16 If you're going to run your dishwasher, you can wait till after 9:00 PM to start running it on your own. That's going to help you save on your bill.

Speaker 1: 00:22 That and more San Diego news stories coming up right after the break.

Speaker 2: 00:29 [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 00:33 thank you for joining us for San Diego News Matters. I'm Deb Welsh. Low income seniors in California have had to choose between supplemental security income or receiving food assistance until now. Legislation to expand CalFresh went into effect last month. KPBS reporter John Carroll says a special event Tuesday helps seniors apply for CalFresh

Speaker 3: 00:57 at the serving seniors building in downtown San Diego. Low income seniors are provided breakfast and lunch but not dinner. That means they often had to choose between paying bills or buying food. With the expansion of CalFresh, they're no longer faced with that agonizing decision. On Tuesday, volunteers helped seniors apply for the benefits. Gwendolyn. Joseph is now waiting to hear whether she's approved.

Speaker 2: 01:20 It's very good for us and they should go up there and apply for that because like I said, it put food on your table.

Speaker 3: 01:27 If you or someone you know is low income of any age, you can apply to just call the county assistance line at two one one and you'll get the help you need. John Carroll KPBS News,

Speaker 1: 01:40 California Governor Gavin Newsom entered office with a promise to reform the state's troubled department of motor vehicles, capitol public radio.

Speaker 4: 01:48 Scott Rod reports on possible fixes. It's a right of passage for Californians that Newsome wants to scrap waiting in line for hours to renew a driver's license or register a vehicle. His DMV strike team released its final report on how to improve the department. It calls from making more services available online and creating temporary popup offices at major employers to reduce in person visits. The demands on the DMV are expected to increase as residents face in October, 2020 deadline to get their federally mandated Real Id. The report also calls for stabilizing but not overhauling the DMVs. Decades old computer system Newsome says modernizing it will take significant investment from the state. Shortly before the strike team announced its recommendations, the DMV experienced a system wide computer outage in Sacramento. I'm Scott Rod,

Speaker 1: 02:37 the University of California and the world's largest publisher of scientific research are locked in a dispute over how information is shared as capitol public radio is Randall wide explains this struggle could end up reinventing a global system.

Speaker 4: 02:52 The UC campuses are huge in the research world in terms of everything holdings, like the books that we have and the number of people we support were at the same size as the library of Congress. Mackenzie Smith runs the UC Davis Library one of 10 in the system that up until a week ago relied heavily on company called Elsevier. The global publisher produces respected research journals like the Lancet and cell. In order to see a steady, you have to pay academics publish for free, but now they UC wants to change to open access where academics would pay to publish. In that model, anybody can get access to our articles and not have to pay for them. The current model is like a bookstore. You pay to get a book under open access. It's like a library. The publisher pays, you read it for free. If Elsevier shifts to the library model for the UC, it would require the university pay for publishing and reading. The UC does a lot of both. It publishes roughly 10% of all research in the U s and on average downloaded a study every three seconds last year to do that. The UC paid Elsevier, $11 million. Elsevier spokeswoman, Gemma Hersh says the company is supportive of open access.

Speaker 1: 04:10 The challenge however is that the rest of the world isn't all moving at the same pace and the same speed and that has implications for how quickly or how affordable a transition can be.

Speaker 4: 04:22 Both sides say they want the dispute resolved, but negotiations have been at a standstill since February. In Sacramento. I'm Randall white.

Speaker 1: 04:31 San Diego is one step closer to getting high speed cellular technology though with some new limitations. KPBS science and technology reporter Shelina Celani says the city council in a near unanimous vote approved regulations Tuesday that would protect the beauty of the city as five g is rolled out. The city's move toward 5g infrastructure is inevitable. Last year at federal regulators said local governments could face potential legal action if they tried to restrict wireless companies from delivering five g, but many San Diego residents have pushed back saying the technology can be ugly because it can only work if shoe box size. Cellular devices are installed on polls within nearly every city block. That's why these new regulations require these so-called small cells to be as unobtrusive as possible, says Karen Lynch, a city developer.

Speaker 5: 05:24 We've incorporated high design standards to ensure integration and to protect our communities from poorly designed and or maintained wireless sites.

Speaker 1: 05:32 Lynch says city planners have also created guidelines for historic districts so they can get specially designed polls. Shalina Celani KPBS news, a new affordable housing development is headed for downtown San Diego. KPBS has Annika. Colebra says the county board of supervisors made the move on Tuesday. The supervisors voted unanimously to lease land for an affordable housing development in downtown. According to city new service, the panel approve the lease for Bridge Housing Corporation official, say the building will have 120 units and half of them will be suited for seniors and families. They said we'll also have an underground parking garage. The complex will be located on sixth avenue where the county's former family's court building is. It's expected to be ready by 2024 and a covert k PBS news. The University of California says it's sent out a record number of admission letters to incoming fall freshman this year more than 108,000 potential students were accepted. System wide director of admissions and me une Wu says the focus for the last few years has been on transfer students and then appears to be paying off

Speaker 6: 06:43 with the record number of admissions. We do expect to enroll a record number of transfer students as well to meet the goal of enrolling one transfer student for every two new freshmen.

Speaker 1: 06:57 Also a record heading into the fall term. The number of freshmen from California accepted. The UC says that equals nearly 72,000 students an increase of 3% over the last year. San Diego gas and electric has already transitioned hundreds of thousands of its customers to a type of use energy plan. KPV as science and technology reporter Shalina Celani says the shift is a response to a changing electric grid in California

Speaker 7: 07:26 on a university of San Diego. Rooftop Scott Anders walks down an aisle within a sea of solar arrays. He's the director of the energy policy initiatives center here. Andrew says California has major climate action goals, so over the last decade, the amount of renewables, particularly solar on the states electric grid has increased three fold increase in solar is really a combination of large scale solar and then also building or site specific installations like this one here. But this increase in renewables has created some issues for grid operators. They're variable resources. They don't produce energy all the time. Solar panels only produce when the sun is shining and wind turbines only produced when the wind is blowing. State law mandates that 60% of California's energy must come from renewables like solar. By 2030 but right now they only provide around 30% so half that amount. So the same challenges we see now will increase and there are some strategies that California is looking at to mitigate those challenges. One is the time of use rates. Time of use rates are all about supply and demand. When the sun is shining in the morning, there's lots of clean solar energy on the grid. The price therefore is cheaper, but towards the evening when the supply of solar is going down, electricity demand is going up. Utilities have to turn on their natural gas plants which are not as clean. So energy becomes more expensive. Andrew says this price shift is a way to change consumers habits. So more people end up using the cheaper and cleaner energy.

Speaker 2: 09:02 If we can align the price, we charge customers to the, to the price in the market. That helps get people consuming in the middle of the day rather than in the evening.

Speaker 7: 09:09 It's not just SDG and e making this change. The California Public Utilities Commission has mandated that all investor owned utilities switch their customers over to a default opt out time of use energy plan SDG and e just happens to be the first one in this transition. Still many of the utilities customers are worrying they're about to spend more money on their electricity bills within this new 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM peak window in a model smart home within the energy innovation center, SDG knee communication manager, West Jones points to a number of smart appliances.

Speaker 2: 09:45 Smart appliances are things that you can use when you're not actually there on scene at the time using it and you can, you know, program your phone to a lot of these appliances are, they're automated. Yes.

Speaker 7: 09:55 Joan says for those who don't have smart appliances, time of use may require a shift in schedule. What are some things in here that the average person might have? Maybe that's not a smart appliance that they can adjust their life?

Speaker 2: 10:09 Well, I mean, even like, so obviously if you're going to run your dishwasher, if you can wait till after 9:00 PM to start running it on your own, that's going to help you save on your bill.

Speaker 7: 10:17 June's also suggest running the laundry after 9:00 PM or adjusting the thermostat to cool the house early in the day. But Jones admits some families may find that challenging,

Speaker 2: 10:27 that they feel like they can't shift any of their usage and they have to use all their appliances or in that time they may find the plans not right for them and they have the choice to opt out.

Speaker 7: 10:34 In the meantime, he says STG knee will have a one year price and guarantee. So if you end up spending more on this plan, the utility will credit you back the difference. Shalina Celani key PBS news,

Speaker 1: 10:45 thanks for listening to San Diego News matters. If you're not already a subscriber, take a minute to become one. You can find San Diego news matters on apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.