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Greg Prada’s latest letter raised two points involving EID. The more important one was repetition of an incorrect claim, that EID had added $9 million in new IT projects to its Capital Improvement Plan for IT projects.
There are no new IT projects in EID’s CIP. It’s easy to mistakenly believe otherwise because there was substantial reorganization and refinement to flesh out specific project descriptions to deeper levels of detail in the 2012-16 CIP. Several months ago I checked on the less obvious changes by contacting EID directly. IT Director Tim Ranstrom provided notes on reorganization of five major project-level descriptions. This also refined their cost estimates
The bigger picture is that IT projects are in a CIP group titled “General District.” The current five-year CIP allocates a total $9.15 million to General District, decreased $2.26 million from the prior CIP, and it cuts $56.2 million from the entire CIP. I’d like to think we don’t live in Orwell’s 1984 — cost cuts are not cost increases.
In contrast, Greg Prada called for an increase in expenditures to mail an extra page of information to customers regarding prorated billing due to a rate change whose timing was mid-billing period. Most customers need to know two things for each billing period: What their metered consumption was and how much they pay for it. EID bills already cover this. However, customers do have a legitimate right to inquire into details of rate proration. EID answers that need directly: “Utility Billing staff receives approximately 10 customer calls regarding bill proration each week and are able to satisfy the customers’ questions/concerns.” (Quoted from a current board meeting packet.
Copying and mailing an extra page to just under 40,000 customers isn’t cheap. Even with economies of scale and bulk mailing, the likely cost of printing and mailing is at least $20,000. A larger expense would be costs for software changes to generate and format custom per-customer data. Let’s avoid passing that cost to all of us, and instead continue to give concerned customers the focus they deserve through direct interaction.
El Dorado Hills
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