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How Californians pay for electricity could change

 September 13, 2023 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Wednesday, September 13th.


How we pay for electricity could change in the near future. More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….


The C-D-C is recommending those 6 months and older get at least one dose of the latest Covid vaccines.

Scientific advisers to the C-D-C reviewed the data and voted on the recommendation yesterday (tuesday).

The new shots are intended to prevent another surge in respiratory infections this fall and winter.

The F-D-A approved the new round of vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech (bee-on-tech) on Monday.

The shots will be given as a single dose for most people, regardless of prior COVID-19 vaccination history.

They will be free to most Americans until December of next year.


Customs and Border Protection is again keeping hundreds of migrants in a makeshift outdoor camp.

This is after Border Patrol put around 400 migrants in a makeshift camp between the primary and secondary border walls back in April.

The more than 300 migrants currently in the camp have no protection from the elements.

The migrants are from all over the world and the group includes many small children.

Customs and Border Protection did not respond to questions from KPBS.


Another member of San Diego Wave F-C is joining the U-S Women's National Team.

Jaedyn Shaw was selected yesterday (tuesday) to participate in a couple of exhibition games against South Africa.

The first is scheduled for September 21st in Cincinnati.

This will be Shaw's first time playing with the main national team after playing for some of Team U-S-A's youth teams.

Wave teammates Alex Morgan and Naomi Girma will be joining her.


Coming up, California regulators are mulling over big changes for electricity customers around the state.

“This is really about taking our existing rates and really changing how electricity is priced for customers”

More on the story, just after the break.


How California residents pay for electricity could change in 20-26 as regulators consider an income-based flat-fee system that is essentially a minimum bill.

Environment reporter Erik Anderson says, an administrative law judge is deciding how the state mandated system will work.

The California legislature is responsible for an unprecedented change to electric bills.  But don’t try to find the lawmaker responsible.  The adjustments to the state’s public utility code in Assembly bill two-oh-five were made during state budget talks.  A stroke of a pen, a legislative vote, and the governor’s signature created a move toward income-based utility fees. Ahmad Faruqui - economist “this was put in at the last minute.  Nobody even knew it was happening.  It was not debated on the floor of the assembly where it was supposedly passed.  Of course the governor signed it.  We assume he knew what he was signing.  And in particular, it’s a very small clause in a very long bill which is mostly about other issues.” But that small adjustment could have massive impacts on California residents.  Section 739.9 of the utility code calls on regulators to implement a monthly income-based flat fee for electricity customers. That fee cannot be avoided.  The law says people who earn more money should pay more than people who earn less, but it doesn’t spell out the specifics leaving that to state regulators. Regulators call the change a mandate, but Faruqui isn’t sold. “They said the commission may consider or should consider.  They didn’t mandate it.  It’s worth re-reading it.” In fact the legislative language says the commission MAY adopt income based flat fees.  It does NOT say the commission SHOULD.  Nevertheless, the California Public Utilities Commission has already requested and received nine proposals.  They come from the consumer groups, environmentalists, the solar industry and utilities.  San Diego Gas and Electric rolled out their plan this past spring. Scott Crider, SDG&E “This is really about taking our existing rates and really changing how electricity is priced for customers to make it simpler.  To make it more predictable.  And to really create that savings for lower income customers.” SDG&E’s unavoidable monthly fees ranged from 24 to 128 dollars, depending on income.  The utility will also lower the per kilowatt cost of electricity which the U-S Energy Department says is currently the most expensive in the nation. It's roughly 47 cents. “Moving away from fossil fuels and more electricity in our homes and vehicles we really need to modernize the pricing structure to make sure we can address affordability for the state while helping meet the state’s very, very aggressive climate goals.” Court filings show SDG&E now suggests simplifying their plan.  Customers who don’t qualify for financial discounts would pay a roughly 73 dollar a month fee.  The utility would add the higher 128 dollar fee for richer customers, later.  The California Public Utilities Commission has engaged an administrative law judge to sift through the proposals and adopt, revise or blend them into a proposed decision. “this is a really significant policy debate.” Bernadette Del Chiaro represents the solar and storage industry.   She wants an open and public process that involves the residents who are affected. “Energy is just one of those issues that just affects people’s pocketbooks in a way that kind of cuts through politics and, you know, any other kind of thing that’s happening in our regions around politics and policy.  I think it’s really important that the commission gain public trust on this one.” So far it’s looking like the sweeping changes will be made behind closed doors.  The administrative law judge handling the case has already rejected requests for a public hearing and for additional evidence. That judge will issue a proposed decision in the spring, giving the public just over a month to comment before regulators vote on the plan ahead of a summer deadline. Erik Anderson KPBS News.

TAG: Tomorrow, in part two of this story, we take a closer look at the proposals that will be the basis for the new flat fees.


The Brother Benno’s Foundation provides food and resources to the Oceanside community, but in order for them to continue operating, the city has imposed a new set of conditions they must follow.

North County reporter Tania Thorne has the details.

Oceanside’s planning commission has added a new set of conditions to the operating permit for the Brother Benno's Foundation. Those conditions include more communication as well as the hiring of security and cleaning services In order for them to continue operating out of the business park on Production Avenue- Paul McNamara is the organization’s new executive director and is also the former mayor of Escondido. It's expensive, we're nervous about it.. Whether or not we can sustain the cost of that security. He says Brother Benno’s took on the security and cleaning expenses to show their commitment to improving conditions in the business park, but it's an expense they can’t float long term. A meeting between Brother Benno's, property managers, city and law enforcement officials will take place this week to discuss possible collaboration on the costs of security. TT KPBS News. 


While the pandemic is over, COVID-19 cases on school campuses are increasing.

Here’s Education reporter M.G. Perez with more.

Since year round classes began in July…the Chula Vista Elementary School District has reported more than 9-hundred COVID cases among students and staff. That’s only half the number of cases for the same period last year… but the numbers are climbing more quickly…so the district has partnered with Campus Clinic to offer weekly no cost testing at all 50 of its campuses.. Thomas Shaffer is president of Campus Clinic. “detecting COVID early means that we can stop the transmission of the disease in school. Stopping the transition means we can increase instruction time, and protect staff members, the families of students, and the students themselves.”  In San Diego Unified…150 more positive COVID cases are reported in the first three weeks of school compared to the same time last year. Families continue to be provided home test kits …and …the Board of trustees is currently not planning to require masks. MGP KPBS News.


Coming up.... tips on what you can do to make sure a story is credible.

“Check to see if the story is appearing in more than one outlet. You should be able to find… you know if it’s a legitimate news story, it should be covered by a couple different news outlets.”

We’ll have that, just after the break.


Misinformation and disinformation live on social media platforms.

But when so many people rely on social media for news, and few can tell the difference between credible information and fabricated information, it becomes a threat to our democracy.

California legislators are trying to change that with a bill that was passed in the state senate last week.

It requires students in kindergarten through 12th grade to learn about media literacy in their core subjects.

Carolyn Jones is an education reporter with Cal Matters.

She spoke with my colleague Jade Hindmon.

Why do you think media literacy is gaining the attention of legislators today?

We hear the term fake news a lot. What exactly is that and where does it come from?

There are actually 2 bills related to media literacy currently in the works in Sacramento. What can you tell us about AB 7 8 7? What would that do and where does that legislation stand today?

So California did pass optional media literacy guidelines back in 2018. How would these latest statewide efforts change those?

How do you see those being a threat to democracy?

How has the media literacy landscape changed in recent years?

The effort right now is to teach students, but what about voters, what about people who are voting right now?

TAG: That was Carolyn Jones, the K through 12 education reporter with Cal Matters, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host, Jade Hindmon.


That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great Wednesday.

California regulators are mulling over big changes for electricity customers around the state. In other news, while the pandemic is over, COVID-19 cases on school campuses are increasing. Plus, tips on what you can do to make sure a news story is credible.