Avalon seeks Edison rate transparency

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Led by City Council member Pam Albers, the city of Avalon voted Tuesday to table a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission supporting the inclusion of the California Ratepayers Association if Southern California Edison requests any rate increases for Catalina Island.

The agenda item said city staff recommended the council approve sending a letter
to CPUC supporting a letter
of the “Catalina Ratepayers Representatives regarding a proposed rate increase by Southern California Edison.”

The Catalina Ratepayers Representatives have drafted a letter to the CPUC requesting that the Water Division directs all communications and documents provided to the division in connection with a proposed advice letter to justify a rate increase be provided concurrently to the Catalina Ratepayers Representatives and that the representatives be allowed to be present at all meetings with the division regarding the proposed advice letter, according to the agenda item.

Some city officials confirmed that they met with SCE recently but said no specific rate increase was discussed or is pending. Albers was out of town and not able to attend that meeting, she said.

Nevertheless, Albers asked to table the proposed letter, saying city residents “deserve more transparency” in rate decisions. She reminded the council that Edison on Catalina was a “Class C Utility,” making them smaller than others.

This designation, under some circumstances, allows the public utilities commission to approve rate increases with less “rigorous” investigation than utilities with different designations.

Edison is a “regulated monopoly,” said Albers, and as such, allowed a profitable rate of return on all approved infrastructure investments. During their last rate increase request, SCE requested $7 million but an administrative law judge determined only about $4 million was required, she said.

Albers said she supports the general notion of having SCE notice the CRR on all communications and is open to SCE making their case for added investment/revenue, but that it deserved to be heard in the public.

Council member Cinde MacGugan-Cassidy said the city of Avalon needs to be listed for all notices as well. The council needs to be “standing up for our community,” she said. MacGugan-Cassidy said there may be some proprietary information that will need to be shared.

Since the meeting, Albers said she had been contacted by SCE and offered a private briefing on the issues. Albers said she preferred that Edison “make their case” in a public forum. “These small meetings are not going to work for me.”

The council voted 5-0 to table the support letter and instructed staff to set up a public meeting to discuss the SCE rate situation.

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