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Utility lines in the Grant Hill neighborhood of San Diego / Photo by Megan Wood

Tuesday is Decision Day for the franchise fee, the biggest energy contract the city has to dole out.

One factor that makes this all a bit awkward, as MacKenzie Elmer lays out in a new story: The city and SDG&E appear poised to ink the franchise deal while they’re fighting over another agreement – the one that guides the project to bury utility lines across the city underground. 

Some members of the Council, and the city attorney, aren’t thrilled about signing a massive deal with a company while simultaneously arguing the company hasn’t lived up to a separate deal.

“The city isn’t happy that SDG&E stalled new projects to bury power lines underground since the expiration of the franchise fee agreement,” Elmer reports. “Allegations spelled out by the San Diego city attorney’s office that the company was overcharging for that work remain unresolved. And the city is still fighting SDG&E in court after the company refused to pay for the cost of moving some equipment so San Diego could build Pure Water, its billion-dollar wastewater recycling system.”

The franchise fee grants a utility the right to provide power in town. One big potential sticking point to watch for: Gloria’s proposal is essentially a 20-year deal, but several Council members have said they want a much shorter five-year contract

The cost of undergrounding isn’t the only issue …

The process takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r, for a few reasons, as Elmer describes in this week’s Environment Report: “It often involves tearing up the street, laying utility lines in the earth, and then resurfacing the street plus the task of coordinating it all.” The city of Pasadena, which has also been working to move its power lines underground, would take another 400 years based on the rate it’s collecting money from residents for the program. Ultimately, how things move forward for San Diego’s program will depend in part on the franchise fee deal: “the terms of the city’s future relationship with SDG&E on the expensive and arduous task of burying power lines won’t be worked out until after the company gets the contract,” Elmer reports.

Scripps Defends Lack of Info About Attack

Four weeks after Scripps Health was hit with a ransomware attack, the system is still relying on paper processes to deliver care and isn’t sure when things will go back to normal, the Union-Tribune reports.

Scripps declined to answer many of the U-T’s questions for its story. 

In an email to patients Monday, CEO Chris Van Gorder defended how tight-lipped the company has been about the situation: “Openly sharing the details of the work we have been doing puts Scripps at an increased risk of coming under further attack, and of not being able to restore our systems safely and as quickly as possible for you,” he wrote. “Other attackers are already using what is being reported in the media to send scam communications to our organization.”

Scripps has, in fact, kept information so closely guarded that it had declined to even acknowledge that the attack involved ransomware. Van Gorder confirmed in the email that it had.

Van Gorder also said Scripps expects electronic health records to be back online later this week.

In Other News

  • An SDSU professor and the Anti-Defamation League have dueling op-eds in the Times of San Diego over the organization’s partnership with the university. The professor argues the relationship will “likely chill political discourse, undermine inclusiveness, and marginalize advocates for Palestinian dignity.” An ADL official writes that “this program is in no way an effort to silence criticism of Israel or support for the Palestinian people on campus.”
  • NBC San Diego rounded up some of the ways local craft breweries are responding to explosive sexual harassment allegations about the industry. 
  • Vista is taking steps to enact a plastic ban. (KPBS)

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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