Daily Business Report-July 3, 2015
California Electricity Bills to Rise for Millions
Regulators to Decide Today
Electricity bills for millions of Californians could be on the rise, depending on what state energy regulators decide on Friday. It would be the most sweeping overhaul of electricity rates in more than a decade.
Regulators at the California Public Utilities Commission are expected to decide between two competing plans that would change electricity prices for customers of Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric.
Utilities have been pushing for the overhaul, saying current prices don’t spread the cost of power fairly between heavy users and more efficient users. Solar companies, environmentalists and consumer groups have fought back, warning that California’s energy efficiency and renewable energy goals could suffer.
In months of debate leading up to today’s vote, the main sticking point had been something that may not seem earth-shattering at first glance: whether customers should have a fixed monthly charge on their bill. Utilities had proposed that customers pay $10 a month.
“That’s to help share the cost of basic infrastructure that we all use and depend on — lines, poles, meters and so forth,” said PG&E spokesman Jonathan Marshall in November.
Solar companies saw it as a direct attack on their business model, since it makes solar installations less cost-effective. “A fixed charge does not help solar customers in any way because you can’t avoid it by generating your own electricity,” said Brad Heavner of the California Solar Energy Industries Association.
Consumer groups also warned it would affect lower-income customers disproportionately and would make energy efficiency projects less appealing, since they would take longer to pay off.
In response the fixed charge, PUC Commissioner Mike Florio offered an alternate plan that rejected the fixed charge in favor of a minimum bill amount, where customers would have to pay at least a minimal amount if their bills are close to zero.
Late Wednesday, the original proposal was amended to reject the fixed charge as well, though it spells out conditions in the future where utilities could request it again.
UC San Diego Sues USC,
Noted Alzheimer’s Researcher
UC San Diego on Thursday sued the University of Southern California and a nationally recognized Alzheimer’s disease researcher, saying they illegally conspired to take over a major Alzheimer’s study it is running, the Union-Tribune reported.
The lawsuit, filed in San Diego Superior Court through the UC Regents, also names as defendants eight colleagues of the scientist, Dr. Paul Aisen. He left UC San Diego to head a new Alzheimer’s institute founded by USC in San Diego, bringing the eight with him.
While universities commonly recruit or poach faculty from each other, lawsuits arising from the recruitment are much rarer. This lawsuit says USC and the other defendants went beyond recruitment to commit a variety of illegal acts, including interference with contract, breach of duty of loyalty by employee, commission of computer crimes and civil conspiracy.
UC San Diego said it has been deprived of access to data for the Alzheimer’s project because of the actions of Aisen and the other defendants.
The university is seeking an unspecified amount of money, to be determined through a jury trial. These include compensatory damages, attorney fees, repayment of profits and other compensation the court deems proper. UC San Diego provided a copy of the lawsuit to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
USC says it simply recruited a prestigious scientist, an activity which academic institutions perform routinely. Aisen didn’t comment on Thursday’s developments.
Aisen is best known for leading the Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study, or ADCS, a nationwide effort to speed up getting Alzheimer’s treatments to patients. Funded by the National Institute on Aging, the study has been based at UC San Diego since its creation in 1991. Aisen became its head in 2007.
— San Diego Union-Tribune
Judge to Enter Schedule in Trademark Case Between
Salt Lake Comic and San Diego Comic-Con International
Salt Lake Comic Con announced today that a federal magistrate judge indicated that he was going to enter a schedule of deadlines in the trademark case between it and San Diego Comic-Con International. The pretrial schedule is expected to be finalized by the end of July.
At issue is Salt Lake Comic Con’s use of the term “Comic Con.” While the parties are no longer engaged in the District Court’s Early Neutral Evaluation process, Salt Lake Comic Con said it hopes that an out-of-court resolution can still be reached. The details of the negotiations during the evaluation period are to be treated by the parties as strictly confidential.
“We feel we have a responsibility not only to those fans, but to other comic cons around the country to reach a reasonable settlement,” said Dan Farr, Salt Lake Comic Con founder and show producer. “We will continue to focus our efforts on seeking a favorable settlement and, at the same time, preparing for Salt Lake Comic Con 2015
Salt Lake Comic Con 2015 is scheduled for Sept. 24-26 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. This is the third annual Salt Lake Comic Con. This September, Salt Lake Comic Con organizers anticipate more than 130,000 attendees.
“We’d still prefer to settle and will continue to work towards a solution with San Diego. Right now, however, we are putting our efforts towards another great show for our fans,” said Bryan Brandenburg, Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder and chief marketing officer. “We feel we have a responsibility not only to those fans, but to other comic cons around the country to reach a reasonable settlement.”
The San Diego Comic-Con opens next week.
Airport Authority Authorizes Pilot
Ridesharing Program with Lyft and Uber
The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority signed permits for ridesharing companies Lyft and Uber to begin operations at San Diego International Airport as part of a pilot program. The two ridesharing companies will begin operations at the airport immediately, augmenting existing service provided by Opoli.
Airport Authority staff worked with the ridesharing industry over the past year to draft a permit for Transportation Network Companies to operate at the airport. The Airport Authority board on Wednesday adopted a resolution that removes the fingerprinting requirement from the Airport Authority’s background check process for several ground transportation providers, including TNCs, taxi cab providers and shared ride vans or vehicles for hire. The TNCs will continue to conduct their own accredited background checks of their drivers.
The pilot program for all TNCs will run through June 30, 2016, after which the Airport Authority will evaluate how it’s working and determine if changes to the process or regulations need to be made.
Employment Center in Pacific Highland Ranch Sold
Pardee Homes, the San Diego-based home building division of TRI Pointe Homes Inc., has completed the sale of a 15,72-acre employment center located in the Pacific Highlands Ranch community. The buyer is a subsidiary of Lincoln Property Co. Financial terms were not disclosed.
UCSD: Admission Granted
To 26,502 Prospective Freshmen
UC San Diego announced Thursday that admission was offered to 26,502 prospective freshmen and 8,150 transfers for the fall 2015 term.
The totals represent an increase of 1,969 students for the freshman class and 874 more transfers than last year.
The average grade-point average for those offered freshman admission is 4.14, a tick higher than last year’s 4.13, according to UCSD.
“The academic quality of this year’s admitted students is truly impressive,” said Chancellor Pradeep Khosla. “We are excited to offer admission to more freshman and transfer students this year and to welcome these bright minds to the UC San Diego community.”
While overall diversity among the freshman class is about the same as last year, the number of African American admits climbed by 19 percent, according to UCSD. Minority transfer students increased by nearly 15 percent over last year.
More than 92 percent of the transfer admits come from California community colleges, with a little over half from the southern part of the state.
The university said it expects around 5,100 freshmen and 2,600 transfers to actually enroll for the fall quarter, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 24.
— City News Service
Watch Team USA in Women’s
World Cup Final at Waterfront Park
The county’s Waterfront Park will host its first major sports viewing event on Sunday with a live showing of Team USA competing in the Women’s World Cup soccer championship match.
The team will face Japan in a rematch of the final four years ago when Team USA lost to Japan.
The game will be telecast from Vancouver on a giant 20×27-foot-high definition screen designed for daytime viewing.
The free, family-friendly event starts at 4 p.m. at the county’s Downtown park at 1600 Pacific Highway. Sports fans can stake out their spot early and make a day of it by bringing picnics, blankets and suntan lotion.
Food trucks will be on hand and the concession stand will also be open. No alcohol will be allowed and all other usual Waterfront Park rules will apply. The fountains will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Parking may be limited so public transportation is recommended. For more information, contact the Waterfront Park at (619) 232-7275.
Petco Park officials said the game will also be displayed in the big screen at the Park in the Park, located beyond the center field seats.
Former Army Executive Takes Position with Cubic Corp.
Cubic Corp. announced the appointment of James T. Blake, a former high-ranking executive officer with the Army, as vice president and deputy general manager of integrated training solutions for Cubic Global Defense.
Blake previously was U.S. Army program executive officer for simulation, training and instrumentation, and head of contracting activity. As the program executive officer, he annually executed multibillion dollar programs in which more than 1,200 military, government civilians and service support contractors were involved.
Blake began his military service in 1968 and completed his military career as a colonel in 1995. Afterwards, Blake held several technical, executive and academic positions before returning to government service at Simulation, Training and Instrumentation Command as the program manager for the Institute for Creative Technologies, the internationally recognized University Affiliated Research Center for Advanced Modeling and Simulation.
HAVE A SAFE AND JOYFUL INDEPENDENCE DAY!