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Southern California Edison Monopoly

October 20th, 2016

          I recently closed the Edison electricity account at my former residence. It has solar energy panels that produce electricity which supplements  my energy needs. When the panels produced energy in excess of those needs the excess was fed into the Edison grid. Each year Edison sent a bill for the amount of electricity used in excess of the amount produced by the solar panels. That annual amount, usually less than $500, represented my total Edison energy and delivery cost for the year (government taxes were billed separately each month).

          Since the residence was vacant for several months before the Edison account was closed, the solar panels produced more energy than was used during that period. The final Edison bill showed the panels had produced 415 kWh surplus energy and the value totalled $355.07 that was owed me – had the account remained open.

          The closing Edison bill reflected a dollar credit of $62.03. Not the $355.07 credit shown in the statement – just $62.03.  In conversations with Edison staff I was advised that Edison only purchases user-generated power at the wholesale rate. I then asked about transferring the energy credit to my current Edison account but was advised that would not be allowed. My reaction to this situation is that a customer rip-off situation exists with respect to those who have solar energy panels. It certainly makes the case that customers should not install more solar panels than needed for their energy use needs.

          As for Edison and their energy markup monopoly privileges, it appears the public utility is delivering energy they purchase or produce to customers after a 570% markup. That, in my opinion, amounts to an absolute rip-off.

Posted by: Bond Shands
My Notebook blog – www.BondShands.com
Twitter – @BondShands

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Thankful for Equality

November 24th, 2015

Thankful for Equality Progress

Preparing for War!

June 17th, 2015

      News reports of another United States military adventure in the making appeared on June 13, 2015. The New York Times headlined their story “U.S. Is Poised to Put Heavy Weaponry in Eastern Europe“. Our nation has found yet another spot in Europe from which to engage in warfare.

     Will this nation ever turn away from being the world’s police department and become genuine peacemakers? I don’t believe it will. It’s in our blood (killing, I mean) and we see absolutely nothing wrong with it. Of course it helps to remember the bad guys are always the ones we’re out to intimidate, quash and/or completely destroy. Not to worry, though, when we almost but don’t quite win, we’ll spend tons of money to rebuild whatever the other guys lost from our conflict. That’s just more proof we’re the good guys.

     Must admit to wondering when this latest military proposal will move into actual conflict? But, since we don’t have a draft, it’s not really a big deal to most of us. At least there’ll be headlines and that should prove interesting, possibly entertaining, for a period of time. Should keep our military industrial complex folks happy.

     God Bless America, Hail to the Chief, America Forever, America the Beautiful and more are the mottos and phrases that guide us – for it’s all about us! And, of course, that’s the way it should be. After all, aren’t we the chosen people, the ones created to bring democracy to the world, and the savior of all who share our beliefs? We even have a huge segment of the population convinced that we have religious principles that need to be forced upon the rest of the world.

     I could rant and rave over this subject for hours but it wouldn’t change any minds, spur anyone to action or give many reason to pause and think about it. The truth is that our penchant for national warlike adventures has yet to find its limits. It’s almost as if it’s a game in which we need to always be a major player. We seldom win, but we never admit defeat.

     A recent article about the type of military we’re creating was depressing. Our beloved warrior combat forces appear to be the first step in what actually may be a homegrown mercenary fighting system. We entice “volunteers” with good pay and benefits, family unit support, and housing in a walled complex totally separated from the rest of the country. In those military-base walled residential communities there are shopping facilities, entertainment, education and, of course, the employment location is just around the corner. Military family residents automatically develop their own culture, associations are limited to those in the same community and the social and political views chart an independent course. It’s almost another form of population segregation. How can this be good for our nation and our future?

      Most who read this post will not participate nor even click the like button. That may be to avoid appearing to take a position, for being an avid peace lover is almost un-American. Our support for peace and opposition to war is more of the “please don’t do that” variety or “not really a good idea”. Advocating on behalf of peace and in opposition to all warlike adventures is just not done. This, after all, is America, and Dick Cheney may be gone from Washington, but fond memories of his time remain. Our own kids won’t be doing any of the fighting so – send in the troops.

      War – It’s becoming ordinary, just like breakfast, lunch and dinner.

      Grrrrrrrrrrrr. Dare I say that we’re also a bunch of very, very, stupid dumb yucks!

Bond Shands
June 17, 2015
The Notebook at www.bondshands.com
Desert Political Opinion at www.DesertObserver.com

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CV-Link in Palm Springs

May 11th, 2015

An Open Letter to Palm Springs City Officials

Dear Mayor Pougnet and City Officials:

     As you surely know there is currently an ongoing debate about the design and maintenance costs of the planned CV-Link bicycle-pedestrian-Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) route planned for portions of the Whitewater River channel embankment. Rancho Mirage city mayor Dana Hobart and his City Council have voiced objections to what they perceive as the high maintenance costs that will be required for the new route and its 30 foot wide width that is planned to occupy portions of their city streets. The originally proposed trail width was increased from 12 to 30 feet in order to accommodate NEVs.

     I too am one of those questioning the future maintenance costs out of concern they will require funds to be diverted from planned bicycle and pedestrian routes within Palm Springs and used for CV-Link maintenance costs. CV-Link, as you may know, mostly skirts our outer city limits and thus may receive limited use from our residential and tourist communities.

     I’ve also questioned the plan to incorporate Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) into the CV-Link design. My concern is whether the additional funds required for the NEV roadbed expansion represents a reasonable investment of taxpayer funds. We don’t have a valley-wide consensus favoring use of NEVs and are lacking the infrastructure that would facilitate their use as a mode of regular transportation. NEVs are limited to a 25 mph maximum speed and are not permitted in traffic lanes marked for speeds greater than 35 mph. I would like to see Palm Springs become an NEV-friendly community but recognize that would require city council support and the expenditure of significant monies. At present if I owned an NEV it would have to remain in my garage for my HOA community fronts on a street with a 40 mph speed limit which legally bars me from using it for any form of transportation. Are there any plans for serious consideration of NEVs and their wide-spread use throughout Palm Springs?

     I support CV-Link and hope all reasonable questions quickly receive official responses so that the project may proceed without concerns and questions remaining unanswered. We’ve never had a public discussion about CV-Link and it’s value, route and costs to Palm Springs. It would seem only right and fair for Palm Springs to host a forum for residents to learn more about CV-Link and its value to our community – and about NEVs and how those vehicles will fit into our city’s General Plan.

     Mayor Hobart has responded online to a story in the Desert Sun based on an email from Supervisor John Benoit. The mayor’s comments are thoughtful and, in my opinion, worthy of consideration and response from CVAG and CV-Link management. I’ve copied Mayor Hobart’s comments and have reproduced them below.

     Thanks very much for your support of the CV-Link concept, bicycling and pedestrian paths in our city and, of course, your continued vigilance over the best use of taxpayer dollars in our community.

Best regards,

Bond Shands


[]
 G Dana Hobart – Rancho Mirage, California
May 8, 2015

I have raised several questions that neither the Supervisor nor the CVAG staff has answered, except to misstate my reasons for having serious doubts about this use of public funds.

1. Are CVAG member cities willing to accept the 8% TOT formula being recommended and commit those TOT funds to paying the future O&M expenses for the proposed project? This must be resolved ASAP. Using CVAG’s figures, in the first 9-years it would cost Rancho Mirage just over $1.4 million.

2. Secure a legal opinion concerning the legality of CVAG�s proposal to use Measure A funds for O&M expenses.

3. If they are determined to be legally used, I suggested that we urge each city to meet and separately decide if they felt Measure A’s sales tax-generated monies should be diverted from needed Coachella Valley road repair and used for CV Link O&M expenses.

4. I suggested that before we vote or lock ourselves into final decisions (as was being RECOMMENDED by CVAG in a 4/6/15 staff report) all cities, their council members, city managers, finance directors et al meet together in a location where we can all listen to and learn each city’s concerns regarding the burden of O&M expenses.

5. I suggested we retain an independent, outside firm, to assess the accuracy of the projected O&M expense of $1.6 million. Hand-picking such a person (as they are currently doing) to make this assessment is yet another version of loaded dice.

6. I suggested that CVAG consider “slowing down” the advancement of the CV Link project and the expenditure of funds until the foregoing objectives and issues have been clarified and settled. It makes no business sense for development to continue at full speed when the most important financial issue remains unresolved: Who pays for the O&M costs and how much? Mr. Kirk responds by asserting that he does not have the discretionary authority to slow down this roaring train. Yea, sure…

In the real world this looseness with investor funds would never get off the starting blocks. Rancho Mirage hopes to instill sanity in a process that has no idea about who will pay the projected $33,000 per mile of Operations and Maintenance expense (in the first year of operations). Yet they continue to hire staff and move forward at full speed. GDH

End of Mayor Hobart’s comments.


Bond Shands
May 11, 2015
The Notebook at www.bondshands.com

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Is CV-Link Doomed to Fail?

May 4th, 2015

          The CV-Link dream was presented as a continuous bicycle-pedestrian-golf cart route running on top of a Whitewater River embankment. It was to be a route free of cost or adverse impact to valley residents. No broad community outreach effort seeking endorsement or financial support was required nor attempted for it was to be a free trail in an unused or underused area of the valley. No part of this dream has proved to be substantially true. The route won’t be a continuous one along the Whitewater River embankment, it‘s going to require significant annual maintenance costs to be paid by the community and portions of the route will adversely impact some who reside or have business interests in the route’s proposed proximity.

          What has now become clear is that there is no broad community grassroots support for the CV-Link plan that currently exists. The proof of that was in the failure of the general community, elected leaders or even potential users to raise a hue and cry over the City of Rancho Mirage pulling out of the program. CV-Link planners were never required to build broad-based grassroots support. They secured funding from sources other than the local community. There were no fully realistic presentations to Chambers of Commerce, business groups, clubs, social groups, schools, religious leaders, philanthropies, etc., seeking endorsements and support. None of this was needed in order to secure funding. Once that independent funding was obtained broad community support was assumed. Now it’s become clear that grassroots support needs to be obtained if CV-Link is to move forward.

          The obvious step for CV-Link is to broaden their leadership group, seek more advice from community leaders and begin a program of realistic presentations to each and every group, agency and entity in the valley that will be affected by or should be interested in CV-Link. Will CV-Link planners step up to the plate and begin a realistic community outreach program? Do they have all the information about the trail route, its costs and impacts ready for presentation? Do they have statistics on it’s expected use (who will use, where will they come from, how often will they use it, how many and when, etc.)? Now is the time to ask all the possible questions and prepare answers for each. Now is the time to really get to work and make a determined effort to sell this project along with it’s abbreviated “dream”, future costs and perceived adverse impacts.

Bond Shands
May 4, 2015
The Notebook at www.bondshands.com

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