1

Alameda City Council approves sale of AP&T’s telecom business to Comcast

Last night, past midnight, Alameda’s City Council approved the sale of the money-losing telecom part of Alameda Power & Telecom. Michele Ellson had a write up in last week’s Alameda Journal. Some history:

The city embarked on its cable business a decade ago, after voters gave approval. The city originally planned a $10 million investment in the system and up to $20.5 million in financing. Ultimately, the costs grew to include $44 million transferred from AP&T’s electric operation and a total of $39.3 million in bonds.

The sale of the money-losing venture had been greeted with relief by many in the city:

City Auditor Kevin Kearney called the deal a “miracle.” In February, the Public Utilities Board directed AP&T staff to look at three options for the future of its telecommunications line, including refinancing its existing bonds and providing the same services, refinancing and adding a voice service, or selling the system.

Mark Northcross, a consultant hired by the utility to help examine those options, said the cable business doesn’t make enough funds to refinance the bonds without putting up money from its electric business or the city’s General Fund as a guarantee. And he said adding a voice component could cost the city, which is facing its own budget crisis, an additional $2 million. “Selling the system now eliminates further financial risk for AP&T and the city,” Northcross said.

My understanding is that those with alamedanet.net email addresses will have 18 months to transfer them over. Current customers should expect info about changes to their cable packages and rates in the mail Look for more discussion of the deal at Lauren Do’s blog here and here.

1

Solar permits in Alameda?

There’s an article in the current East Bay Express about solar in Alameda. The headline, “Less Than Light Speed,” and much of the story takes what seems to be the greater-Bay-Area’s default stance toward Alameda: Alameda is backwards. Though, if you read the whole article, it sounds like city departments—after a solar contractor complained about turn-around times for permits at an Alameda Power & Telecom board meeting in July—are actually working hard to streamline the process: the city responded by coming up with a plan to issue solar permits within five days.

I did learn (if the Express reporter got it right) that Alameda Power & Telecom, as an independent utility, didn’t have (as other California cities have had since 2001) a state-funded consumer rebate program, until a new law, “Million Solar Roofs,” went into effect at the beginning of this year.

And for those of you interested in alternative sources of power, you might enjoy reading about this gym or this bike.