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PG&E using money saved from paying no taxes to help send Tom Berryhill to Maui
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It's a bit cold and dreary these days.

It means your PG&E bills will climb as you try to keep warm.

But take heart. The money you send to PG&E for this month's heating expenses is making sure that Republican State Senator Tom Berryhill of Modesto has the ear of the folks who have a tendency of late to blow up natural gas pipelines. And they did so by flying him to a nice balmy retreat in Maui.

Little wonder why Berryhill lent his name last spring to a hit piece on the South San Joaquin Irrigation District and their efforts to lower power rates by 15 percent across the board in Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon by acquiring the PG&E delivery system within the district's boundaries.

Berryhill - not to be confused with brother Bill who represents Ceres in the California Assembly and now wants to get elected as our state senator - is part of a small cadre of legislators that are getting a one-week vacation at the Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel in Maui. PG&E, which means you, via the money you send the San Francisco-based monopoly, is picking up part of the tab.

Don't expect Berryhill when he gets back to exactly be a friend of ratepayers.

They're the same PG&E ratepayers that the California Public Utilities Commission gave PG&E the authority to collect $300 million a year in the rate they charge so they can cover their federal tax bill.

Funny thing, though, PG&E hasn't paid federal taxes since at least 2008.

That means they've been able to pocket almost $900 million since then as additional profit as they haven't had to pay any taxes to Uncle Sam. During the same time period I bet your PG&E bill didn't go down or your federal income tax obligations for that matter. But then again, you're not a protected monopoly under California law who wines and dines lawmakers to have their way with our pocketbooks and - now that their natural gas lines are under scrutiny - our collective safety.

It gets better. Not only are the odds that almost all of PG&E's "customers" paid substantially more taxes to the federal government than PG&E has but they did so while PG&E made lots and lots of money. How much money? Well, in the second quarter they had a 32 percent rise in profit to $388 million. That's just for three months.

It gets better. PG&E Got $2.1 billion in tax credits from Uncle Sam over the past few years. That's on top of the $900 million they gleaned from ratepayers by not paying Uncle Sam a penny in taxes despite substantial profits. Keep in mind that is in addition to the 11.45 percent rate of return - bureaucratic words for profit - that the state CPUC guarantees them regardless of how they run the company.

Before you start thinking PG&E didn't pay any taxes, take comfort they did pay property taxes and reduced state taxes based on their non-existent federal bill. Those are taxes, by the way, that are also built into the rates the CPUC grants PG&E that is on top of their guaranteed 11.45 percent profit.

And to make sure you know how good of a corporate citizens they are, PG&E once a year will issue a press release to tell the world about all the local property taxes they pay in the counties that they do business.

It is clear that PG&E has a Wall Street mentality. That isn't a big surprise since they have been run by people at the highest level who are more worried about stock prices and pleasing Wall Street than they are about providing the lowest possible energy costs and the safety of the communities where they are a forced buy.