Bay Area

Ruling paves way for PG&E rate hikes

Electricity and natural gas rates for PG&E customers are headed higher, if a powerful state agency adopts a proposal issued Wednesday evening by a state administrative law judge.

Current monthly bills for the average residential customer who uses 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity are $79.41, said Jonathan Marshall, a spokesman for PG&E. Current natural gas monthly bills are roughly $49 a month.

The proposed decision from a state Public Utilities Commission would allow PG&E to collect 6.8 percent more in revenue. But the actual rate increase "would be well below that," Marshall said. PG&E was studying the proposed decision Wednesday night and did not have an immediate estimate about the impact on monthly bills.

The ruling was issued by an administrative law judge with the state Public Utilities Commission in a case involving a general rate increase request by PG&E. The full five-member PUC will make the final decision on the matter, a ruling that would likely occur this year.

-- George Avalos, Staff

San Ramon

Man sentenced for defrauding investors

A San Ramon resident has been sentenced to 41 months in prison for defrauding nearly a dozen investors out of an estimated $1 million, the Department of Justice said.


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Alfred John Schlette, 60, had promised investors to turn a profit through day trading, but instead used clients' money for personal expenses, according to the DOJ. To cover his tracks, Schlette generated fake statements assuring his clients their assets were earning returns.

Earlier this year, Schlette was found guilty on nine counts of mail fraud. As part of his sentence, Schlette is also required to pay $1.7 million in restitution to his victims.

-- Karina Ioffee, Staff

Walnut Creek

Feds: Man defrauded indebted homeowners

A Northern California man has been charged with defrauding Contra Costa County homeowners whose properties were underwater out of more than $100,000, the District Attorney's Office said this week.

Prosecutors say Marc Stanley Cooper, 60, of Rocklin, ran a company called "Keeping My Property" that targeted homeowners who were having a hard time making their mortgage payments and promised to negotiate a mortgage payment reduction with their bank. Instead, Cooper kept the funds, defrauding 15 people in Contra Costa, authorities said.

Last November, the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office served a search warrant on Cooper's home and located additional evidence. He has been charged with 21 counts of financial elder abuse, foreclosure fraud and grand theft.

-- Karina Ioffee, Staff

Sacramento

Hearing focuses on risks of oil-by-rail

A trio of committees of the state Legislature will discuss the mounting local risks of the transport of crude oil by rail at a hearing Thursday morning that will be webcast live.

The hearing will look at regulatory overview, risk on the ground, and community and industry perspectives. Federal, state and local officials as well as officials of industry groups, environmental organizations, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, and UC-Berkeley School of Law will participate.

It is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. in the John L. Burton Hearing Room at the state Capitol. The hearing can be followed at www.calchannel.com/live-webcast/.

The hearings are significant to the Bay Area, where there are proposals to build a crude-by-rail unloading facility at Valero's Benicia refinery, and an oil storage and transfer installation in Pittsburg by WesPac Energy.

-- Tom Lochner, Staff

Moraga

Ruptured gas main prompts evacuation

A punctured gas line forced an evacuation at Moraga Unified School District on Wednesday as well as several businesses, the school district said.

The break was reported around 2:30 p.m. when crews working to replace a gas line at 1640 School St. hit a 2½-inch steel pipe, according to PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian.

Crews squeezed off the line to stop the flow of gas. No injuries were reported and no PG&E customers were impacted.

-- Karina Ioffee, Staff

RICHMOND

Half marathon debuts on shoreline Sunday

The inaugural running of The Riveter Marina Bay Half Marathon, 10K and 5K race is set for Sunday.

The event along a scenic portion of the Bay Trail begins and ends at the Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbour Way South, and will take in shoreline parks and sites related to the World War II home front that make up the city's national park.

The half marathon starts at 7 a.m., and the 5K and 10K runs begin at 7:30 a.m. It is sponsored by the Richmond Convention and Visitors Bureau and a portion of entry fees will go to the nonprofit Rosie the Riveter Trust and CoachArt.

Registration and event details are online at marinabayhalfmarathon.com.

-- Chris Treadway, Staff

PLEASANTON

Snackdown seeks to choose best fair fare

The Alameda County Fair will hold its first ever Snackdown competition Tuesday to pick the most awfully wonderful fair food of the year.

Judges will choose a winner from 12 finalists, chefs who will turn out deep-fried peanut butter cups, spaghetti ice cream, pickle dogs, lobster on a stick, lobster fries and deep-fried grilled cheese sandwiches, among other treats.

The competition will be at noon at the Festival Square stage at the fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton Ave. Entrance to the competition is free with fair admission. Fair tickets range from $8 to $10 per person, parking is $10. Call 925-426-7600.

-- Kelly Gust, Staff