Readers comments: July 8, 2022
Electric utility vet predicts more outages
As someone with 15 years of experience in the electric utility space (all East Coast), I feel everyone’s pain when the power’s out (it’s not like my house gets a special exemption from outages). Still, electric utilities want to provide reliable power: No power to the meters means no variable revenue, along with upset consumers/businesses and a hit on power delivery metrics.
Unfortunately, my projection is that power outages will only get worse and electric utilities are mostly at the mercy of forces beyond their direct control. Increasing the green content of power generation (wind/solar panels), owing to their innate variability, helps to destabilize the grid (and will until front-end battery technology becomes ubiquitous). Growing climate anomalies (windstorms, lightning storms, fires) increase damage to the grid’s infrastructure and, at least recently, COVID-induced supply chain issues exacerbated replacement equipment availability.
Because of recent electric utility line-induced fires, significant weather events that could trigger a brush fire mean de-energizing those impacted line segments more proactively, aka power outage. Rooftop solar power installs complicate local power line repairs because the line can be “live” even when cut off from distant generation, and ensuring the safety of line repair personnel is paramount.
Increased adoption of electric cars sounds like a dream to electric utilities until you examine whether pole-top transformers can handle the additional nighttime charging loads (and also with the climate warming, those transformers don’t get the expected nighttime cooling they need, so they fail more often).
Can electric utilities do a better job of informing consumers of outages/impacts/restoration? Most likely. Can consumers purchase their own electric backup systems (solar plus battery/generator)? Possibly, but [it’s expensive]. Can time-of-use billing encourage smarter consumption of electricity? Probably. Wish there were easy solutions.
Clearing the air on Claremont’s unfunded liability
In last week’s COURIER, Mr. Belna pointed out that I am a former mayor of Claremont. I am also writing this letter drawing from my experience as a finance director of two Southern California cities and my doctoral degree in public administration. While on the city council, I kept my knowledge current of the issue of the city’s unfunded CalPERS liability through attending seminars by CalPERS and having many discussions with the city manager and finance director.
Once again, Mr. Belna has made incendiary and inaccurate statements about Claremont’s CalPERS pension debt, as well as about city councilmembers both past and present. While it is unfortunate that he feels it is necessary to make comments about others, I will address just his erroneous assertion concerning the state auditor’s ranking of Claremont’s fiscal risk.
To clarify: California Government Code Section 8546 makes specific the authority of the state auditor to identify “high-risk” local government agencies. When the state auditor identifies a local government agency as high risk, he or she provides an opportunity for the local government agency to prepare a corrective action plan. There are three classifications: high risk, moderate risk, and low risk cities. The City of Claremont has been classified as “moderate risk,” never “high risk,” as Mr. Belna has repeatedly stated. The state auditor conducts an analysis of multiple factors in making this classification, and in the course of conducting this analysis, contacts only “high risk” cities for a response.
Claremont’s classification as a “moderate risk” city by the state auditor was addressed at the March 10, 2020 city council meeting as agenda item number two. In the memorandum from the mayor’s ad hoc audit committee, the city’s retirement obligations, which played a large part in its ranking, were explained. I would also refer readers to my June 24, 2022 letter to the editor for a more detailed explanation of how the CalPERS unfunded liability is actually being addressed.
In addition, the City of Claremont is audited annually by an independent certified audit firm. If the auditor finds no serious problems, the firm gives the city’s financial statements an “unqualified or clean” opinion. The City of Claremont has consistently received “unqualified and clean” opinions.
Clearly, Mr. Belna’s assertion that the City of Claremont “is consistently rated by the state auditor as one of the most fiscally stressed cities in California” is simply not true.
The Court, the COURIER, misogyny and intolerance
It’s curious that the COURIER’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s recent ruling against women’s rights was to turn to anti-choice church leaders for comment. And did you notice they were mostly male? By turning to these churches first, isn’t the COURIER normalizing their misogyny and desire to dissolve the separation of church and state?
In the County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union (1989), a group of Supreme Court justices, led by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, asserted the government “does not violate the establishment clause (separation of church and state) unless it … involves citizens in religion against their will.” By supporting the removal of the protections provided by Roe v. Wade, aren’t religious conservatives on our Supreme Court and their enablers attempting to involve citizens — and women in particular — in their religion against their will?
Here’s to hoping the press stops giving fundamentalist churches the space to promote their intolerance and misogyny.
Editor’s note: In our July 1 story (“Roe v. Wade: local religious leaders speak out”), we reached out to representatives from a cross-section of local places of worship. We found about 60%, three out of five, did not support the Court’s decision to overturn Roe.
Larkin Place opponent supports council’s easement rejection
This is in response to article, “Council’s rejection of easement puts future of Larkin Place in limbo.”
I was present the entire time at the city council meeting on June 28, and your article paints an unfair description of what occurred at this meeting. This article comes out as biased against concerned Claremont residents. It implies there is a renegade group of residents who do not want a homeless project put in place. This is far from the truth.
Implying that the three members of the city council were willing to violate state housing law is an unfair characterization. Instead, in my opinion, the majority of the council thoughtfully and sensibly weighed all the pros and cons of approving an easement from the city owned driveway to the proposed Jamboree housing project. They undoubtedly felt blindsided by city staff, and by the other councilmembers for not allowing a full disclosure of issues, and for not allowing concerned Claremont residents an opportunity to weigh in on such a controversial housing project proposed around a junior high school, a senior citizen center, soccer and softball field, and a daycare center.
Noticeably, Jamboree Development preferred to work with city staff, who have not been fully forthcoming with the all the councilmembers about the tenant target group intended for this housing project. Concerned residents, for several months, have been expressing their concern to Jamboree and to city council about the safety and health for the vulnerable populations that surround the proposed project, and [this] continues to fall on deaf ears, particularly with the mayor and one councilmember.
I am proud of the courageous city councilmembers who voted in favor of not granting easement rights. They carefully thought through all the issues and concluded this was the best and most responsible decision for this specific location.
I, and many others, look forward to supporting a homeless project in our community; but such a project needs to be sensible, thoughtful, and not without input from Claremont residents. This project, to be successful in this vulnerable location, would be better suited for homeless seniors, mothers, families and veterans, not severely mentally disabled, or drug addicted homeless.
Editor’s note: The COURIER takes any accusation of bias seriously. To clarify: The statement that three council members were willing “to violate state housing law” is a direct quote from Marissa Feliciano, director marketing and communications for Jamboree Housing Corporation.