SMUD Crews and Equipment Head to Puerto Rico

SMUD Special Report  |  2018-01-10

SMUD personnel load heavy duty line trucks, tools and equipment onto trailers for shipment to Puerto Rico. SMUD line crews along with other public power utilities will assist with power restoration efforts in Puerto Rico to restore power that has remained out since Hurricane Maria hit the island territory on September 20. Photo courtesy SMUD

Sacramento’s electric company committing lineworkers, trucks and equipment to help get the lights back on

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - SMUD shipped 15 utility trucks to Lake Charles, Louisiana recently where they will be loaded onto a barge for the voyage to Ponce, Puerto Rico, which is expected to take about 10 days.

SMUD, along with the American Public Power Association, is working with other public power utilities to send crews to restore power in Puerto Rico as the island U.S. territory continues to rebuild after Hurricane Maria hit last September. SMUD is a not-for-profit public power electric utility and a member of the APPA.

The trucks will be off-loaded at Ponce’s port and then more than a dozen SMUD lineworkers will fly to Puerto Rico, gather their trucks and tools, and head into the island interior to begin restoration work.

While most of the power outages in the island’s largest city, San Juan, have been restored, SMUD, along with Richmond (Indiana) Power and Light, Norwich (Connecticut) Public Utility and Commonwealth Utilities of the Northern Mariana Islands will be doing power restoration work in the territory’s suburban and rural areas. SMUD and the other utilities’ work is expected to take two months or more. SMUD will rotate its crews after about 30 days and replace them with fresh personnel.

SMUD’s involvement is part of the utility industry’s ongoing response as several electric companies have signed onto a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the electricity provider on the island, as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in ongoing efforts to restore power to the people of Puerto Rico. The MOU was developed by the APPA, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). It serves as a plan that allows electric companies on the mainland (that are members of APPA, EEI, or NRECA) to enter into emergency agreements to provide resources and workers to PREPA on a not-for-profit basis.

SMUD is community-owned and has a long history of providing utilities outside its Sacramento County service territory with mutual-aid assistance. SMUD’s labor, materials and other costs for the effort, which are expected to be about $5 million, will be reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, so SMUD customers won’t be impacted financially. SMUD will also have plenty of crews and equipment to respond to any power outage issues locally.

Source: SMUD media

Sac Choral Society

State Point Media (MPG) - The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that California's adolescent birth rate continues to decline. In 2015, there were 17.6 births per 1,000 females aged 15-19: a 10 percent decline from the 2014 rate of 19.6 and a 62 percent decline from the 2000 rate of 46.7.

"By empowering young people with the knowledge, tools and resources to make healthy choices, California is succeeding in reducing births among adolescents," said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith.

The adolescent birth rate decreased across all racial and ethnic groups between 2000 and 2015. During this time, the adolescent birth rate dropped among Hispanics from 77.3 to 27.0, among African-Americans from 59.1 to 19.7, among Whites from 22.3 to 6.9, and among Asians from 15.0 to 2.9.

Despite declining birth rates, racial disparities persist in adolescent childbearing in California. African-American and Hispanic adolescents were three to four times as likely to give birth as White females. Additionally, the adolescent birth rate varies considerably across counties, from a low of 6.7 in Marin County to a high of 43.1 in Del Norte County.

California has a number of programs aimed at preventing adolescent pregnancy and improving pregnancy outcomes among young women. CDPH funds the Information and Education Program, the Personal Responsibility Education Program authorized through the Affordable Care Act of 2010, and the Adolescent Family Life Program for expectant and parenting adolescents. Also, the state provides no-cost family planning services to eligible men and women, including adolescents, through the Family PACT Program.

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‘Individual Ownership’ Model Fuels Local Economy

Sacramento County, CA (MPG) - More than 110,000 consumers over the past year chose to become members of a local credit union headquartered in Sacramento County as of Sept. 30, 2017 (third quarter), according to the 3rd Quarter Credit Union Trends Report for Sacramento County.

Sacramento County now boasts 1.35 million individuals who are “member-owners” of 10 locally headquartered credit unions — a record high (the last historical peak was 1.05 million in 2009). Each person owns an equal share of his or her respective credit union, with all profits reinvested to benefit every member in the form of better interest rates and lower or no fees.

How these credit union members are spending their money on homes, remodeling projects, new and used automobiles, higher education, surviving life events, and other big-purchase items provides a key barometer into what’s happening across the local economy.

This news release reflects year-over-year trends in local loans and deposits and is published by the Ontario, CA-based California Credit Union League. Local consumers who are members of Sacramento County-based credit unions continue taking on first-mortgages to purchase or refinance homes. First-mortgages rose 11 percent, hitting a record $3.96 billion. (This may include fixed-rate, adjustable-rate, purchase, traditional refinance, and cash-out refinance mortgages). They are turning home equity into cash for remodeling or other large purchases. Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOCs) and second-mortgages combined increased 5 percent, reaching $557 million — an amount not seen since 2015.

Credit union members have slid into the driver’s seat of a newer car or truck more often. New auto loans rose 31 percent, hitting a record $3.6 billion. Used auto loans rose 22 percent, hitting a record $3 billion.They remain true to the habit of paying for life through credit cards. Credit card lending increased 6 percent, hitting a record $628 million.

Members are also trying to save more money and increasingly using credit unions to transact purchases/bill-pay. Total deposits rose 9 percent, hitting a record $15.1 billion (including record individual amounts in checking, savings and money market accounts).

“These credit union trends will continue as long as the economy continues to perform well,” said Dwight Johnston, chief economist for the California Credit Union League.

He noted some areas of concern. Employers are having increasing difficulty finding workers in a tight labor market, which will limit economic growth “to some degree.” He also has concerns the economy may start running out of steam by late 2018. Consumer spending might be “good” by then, but its growth rate could still disappoint. If Wall Street reacts negatively to consumer spending numbers versus expectations, businesses could somewhat pull back on spending and hiring plans.

However, “There is nothing that suggests an economic slowdown is imminent, which makes the overall picture for credit unions bright,” Johnston said. “In fact, the business-skewed tax bill Congress recently passed should accelerate economic growth through at least the third quarter of this year.”

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As travel demand decreases after a busy holiday travel season, prices at the pump should decrease as well

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Californians will kick off 2018 with the most expensive gas to begin a year since 2014, according to AAA, but prices are expected to fall in coming weeks as travel demand subsides after a busy holiday travel season.

At $3.10, California’s average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline today is 33 cents more than drivers paid in January, 2017. At nearly $3.23 per gallon, San Francisco residents are paying the highest prices for gas in Northern California -- 3 cents more than motorists in South Lake Tahoe, which normally tops the charts for the region.

“Last year was a historic travel season, with AAA forecasting record travel numbers for nearly every holiday, but prices historically will drop after the ball drops on New Year’s Eve,” said Michael Blasky, a spokesman for AAA Northern California. “Californians today are paying about 60 cents more than the national average, which AAA attributes to the state’s strong economy, higher taxes on gasoline and stricter environmental regulations."

The last time Californians started a year paying more than $3 for gas was in 2014, when the average price in January of that year was $3.62. Gas prices rose above $4 that summer.

Still, January prices don't always indicate how prices will move throughout a year. Motorists in California paid just $2.55 for regular unleaded gas to begin 2015, but by May were paying above $3.70 per gallon.

Oil prices were more stable in 2017, with prices for a barrel hovering around $50 much of the year. Prices rose late in the year and began 2018 over $60 a barrel, a 2-year high. 

“With global oil producers trying to scale back their production, supply could drop while demand for energy remains high,” Blasky said. “If they’re successful in cutting back oil production, gasoline prices will likely rise as well to meet the demand.”

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CDPH Offers Free Radon Test Kits

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - January is National Radon Action Month and the cold winter months are the best time to test for this odorless and colorless gas. CDPH is offering free test kits to households in California throughout the month of January, or until supplies run out.

Radon, a naturally occurring gas, is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, according to the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


“Testing for radon in your home is a simple process,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. “Taking steps for remediation, if needed, can be critical for indoor air quality, and improving the safety of your home.”

The kits are provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s State Indoor Radon Grant fund, and are limited to one free test kit per household. The aggregated information from the test results will be used to update statewide Radon Potential Maps, which show the likelihood of radon in a specific region.

Test kits can be ordered through the CDPH Indoor Radon Program webpage or by calling the program toll-free at 1-800-745-7236. Options for remediation of radon in the home are available at the CDPH Indoor Radon Program.

Additional information about National Radon Action Month is available on the EPA National Radon Action Month website at www.epa.gov/radon/national-radon-action-month-information

Source: www.cdph.ca.gov

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Average residential customer bill will be reduced by $1.20

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - SMUD has removed the state-mandated SB-1 solar surcharge from all customer bills. Part of Governor Schwarzenegger’s “Million Solar Roofs Initiative,” the surcharge—currently equal to $0.0016 per kilowatt-hour of electricity usage or about $1.20 on an average SMUD customer monthly bill—was initiated in 2008.

Funds from the surcharge were used to help develop residential and commercial solar capacity throughout SMUD’s territory. Overall, the funds will have helped build approximately 125 megawatts of solar generation over the last ten years. This includes incentives for residential and commercial customer solar installations, Smart Home developments, and SolarShares™ developments. A recent example of how these funds were used is the $1.4 million awarded to the Sacramento International Airport to support their installation of two new solar arrays totaling 6.8 megawatts in capacity. The arrays produce enough electricity to handle approximately one-third of the airport’s power needs, saving the airport approximately $850,000 in energy costs each year.

Per the state mandate, the SB-1 solar surcharge was in effect until SMUD had collected $130 million. SMUD reached that cap in late December and immediately removed the surcharge. SMUD has disbursed approximately $125 million of these funds to date and will disburse the remaining funds by the end of 2020.

Per earlier approval by SMUD’s Board of Directors of the Chief Executive Officer & General Manager’s Report & Recommendation on Rates and Services, a rate increase of 1.5 percent for all residential customers and 1 percent for all business customers took effect on January 1, 2018. With the removal of the SB-1 solar surcharge, the average residential customer using 750 kilowatt-hours per month of electricity will now see an average net increase of about $0.42 per month ($1.62 average increase due to the rate increase less an average $1.20 SB-1 solar surcharge). Removing the surcharge from business customer bills will, on average, offset the entire 1 percent rate increase.

For more information about SB-1, visit energy.ca.gov/sb1. For more information about SMUD’s rates, visit smud.org/RateInfo.

Source: SMUD Media

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Sacramento, CA (MPG) - The Housing Authority of the County of Sacramento will open the wait list for the Housing Choice Voucher program on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at 12:01 a.m. until Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at 11:59 p.m.

Applicants can use any device with internet access to complete the application at www.sacwaitlist.com.

There is no cost to apply for housing and a credit report is not needed to apply. However, Sacramento Housing Authority officials caution applicants not to use any other website to apply for the wait list. A number of websites charge fees to submit an application and may require personal information such as social security numbers or debit/credit card information to apply for assistance. This is a scam and could lead to possible identity theft. Housing Authority officials advise that the best way to find the correct website to fill out the application is to typewww.sacwaitlist.com directly into the website address bar usually located at the top left of the browser on the computer screen.

The application submission process is supported in the following browsers: Google Chrome, FireFox, and Internet Explorer 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and Safari. The application can be completed using iPhone, Android and iPad mobile devices.

Wait list preferences are given to families who are homeless or rent burdened, have a family member who is a veteran, have a family member who is disabled, and who live or work in Sacramento County.

A confirmation receipt is issued immediately after the application is submitted.

A total of 7,000 applicants will be placed on the wait list through random selection after the wait list has closed. For more information, go to www.shra.org. Under the Find Housing tab, select Housing Choice Voucher Program.

The Housing Authority of the County of Sacramento’s housing programs serve very low income families and individuals. Eligible families will receive rental assistance as funds are available. Criminal background checks are conducted on all adults applying for housing.

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Recent Employment Trends Show Real Concerns

Pacific Staffing Reports    |  2018-01-10

A shortage in the Sacramento region of qualified applicants has grown to include entry level/general labor applicants, construction trades, equipment operators and licensed route and delivery drivers. File photo.

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - The ongoing active Sacramento hiring marketplace raises employer concerns in the first quarter of the New Year. In speaking directly with top employers Pacific Staffing discovered hiring, retention and payroll pressure among 2018 employment market concerns.  Pressure from increasing competition with higher wage firms based in the Bay Area also causing pay issues in Sacramento.

In telephone contacts between November 23 and December 15th , sixty-five percent (65%) of regional companies report they plan to hire in the first three months of 2018. That projected hiring is lower than the previous quarter, as thirty-five percent (35%) of employers say no hiring is anticipated in January, February and March.

With a robust demand for workers, Pacific Staffing also learned that some regional companies are paying signing bonuses for scarce skillsets and retention of current skilled workers to maintain workforce needs. While eight percent (8%) of hiring in the first quarter is attributed to seasonal needs, not a single company is reporting any layoffs in the new calendar’s first three months. Overall demand is evenly split with 43% of employers attributing hiring to replacements, and for expansion.                       

A shortage in the Sacramento region of qualified applicants has grown to include entry level/general labor applicants, construction trades, equipment operators and licensed route and delivery drivers.  Companies also report strong demands for bookkeeping, accounting/finance, customer service and sales.

Having surveyed Sacramento regional employers since 1992 each new year brings new challenges. In 2017 those changes included Basic work ethics- less loyalty to employers and dedication to doing a job, as noted in our previous trends report.  In between August 23 and September 20, regional employers also were asked if people and their expectations of work were making it difficult to manage. This question generated the largest single positive response as seventy-seven percent (77%) said Yes, noting people were ‘unrealistic’, ‘underqualified’, and younger workers less driven to work. This change in ‘work ethic’ as ‘generational’ attitude with an ‘entitlement’ outlook is causing attendance, productivity and retention issues.

More cultural change came to the front as a surprising number of Sacramento HR contacts noted more parental interference in hiring and workplace settings as reported in our previous report for quarter three of 2017. Pacific Staffing learned one quarter, or twenty-five percent (25%) of all companies reported having had this experience recently when asked about it directly. This (parental interference) is an unwelcome new trend and seems to be growing in the workplace, with employers suggesting it was embarrassing ‘meddling’ for both parent and adult children.

For more information, employment blogs and market surveys go to www.pacificstaffing.com.

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Proposes returning $7.5 billion budget surplus directly to taxpayers

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) today announced legislation that will give the $7.5 billion budget surplus back to hard-working California families and businesses in the form of a refund check.

“While California taxpayers continue struggling to make ends meet, the Legislative Analyst’s Office reported that the state is sitting on a budget surplus of an additional, unexpected $7.5 billion,” said Senator Gaines. “The reason there is a surplus is because Legislative Democrats have continued to overtax Californians and it’s time to send that money right back to taxpayer pocketbooks.”

The legislation will take the state’s $7.5 billion surplus and return it to the taxpayers. Every Californian who filed taxes for 2016 will get their share of that surplus back in a refund check from the government that could amount to hundred dollars per taxpayer.

“I know the legislature will be tempted to continue the tax-and-spend cycle by sinking every extra dollar into expanding an ever-growing list of government services and projects, like granting more rights to undocumented immigrants and funding the boondoggle that is High-Speed Rail.

“But we cannot continue to price families and small businesses out of the state, sending them to neighboring states where the tax burden is much lower. We can’t keep fixed-income seniors teetering on the edge of poverty. That’s why I’m carrying a bill to get every single tax filer a refund of the money they overpaid to the government. It’s their money and it’s our obligation to return it.”

Senator Ted Gaines represents the 1st Senate District, which includes all or parts of Alpine, El Dorado, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, Sierra and Siskiyou counties.

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SACRAMENTO County , CA (MPG) - nimal lovers in Sacramento and Yolo Counties can reserve low-cost spay and neuter surgeries for their dogs and cats during Spay Day Sacramento 2018.

Spay Day Sacramento is an annual event run by Sacramento Area Animal Coalition (SAAC), an all-volunteer nonprofit committed to eliminating local pet overpopulation. Since 2000, nearly 10,000 dogs and cats have been spayed or neutered through the program.

Each pet receives a spay or neuter surgery, permanent microchip identification and vital vaccinations. An appointment and proof of income are required. (Limit: two dogs or cats per household)

Sacramento and Yolo County residents who receive public assistance and/or have an annual household income of $35,000 or less are eligible to participate. Priority is given to pitbulls and Chihuahuas.

Each cat costs just $15 and each dog just $20.

Spay and neuter surgeries will be provided at participating veterinary clinics and animal shelters on or around February 25, 2018.

o apply, fill out an online request form at www.sacanimal.org.

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