Blogging Bayport Alameda

November 14, 2008

ComFAQstic

Filed under: Alameda, Business, Public Resources — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:14 am

In order to head everyone off at the pass, Comcast has released a document for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in order to anticipate what people will want to know about the sale of &Tand what that means to current customers of AP&T, myself included.   What this quick document turnaround tells me is that while there was the appearance of going through the motions with the public meeting the other night (I know that one commenter was hopeful that this was still the first step in a long process), it was pretty much fait accompli that the sale was going through.  

While the FAQ has a lot of standard marketing information about their EXCITING NEW FEATURES!!!  There is some information that should prove useful to AP&T cable and internet customers.

For those of you with alamedanet.net addresses may be wondering what will happen to your address, well according to the FAQ:

…you’ll be able to continue to use your current “alamedanet.net” email address until May 31, 2010…

So you have until 2010 to either “migrate” your account to a comcast address (as they suggest) in order to take advantage of their features.   Although you could just get a web based email account like gmail (google mail) or yahoo and not worry about it.   They are allowing AP&T customers to have a comcast account simultaneously with the alamedanet address — the better to make the eventual transfer — but they make very clear that after that 2010 cut off date no more alamedanet email.

Here is how the transition is supposed to work though, they are anticipating that the switchover will take about 90 days (3 months), I’m paraphrasing and editorizaling here:

  1. You will received a written formal notice of the sale to Comcast.
  2. Comcast will begin to send you lots of information about why you are so lucky to now be a Comcast customer.
  3. “One of the letters you can expect to receive from Comcast will be focused on providing a side-by-side comparison of your particular “old” package to your new Comcast package, including pricing information, a channel line-up comparison, an overview of Comcast product features and benefits and a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs). ”  Which of course translates into: this will be our opportunity to sell you an upgraded package which we will give to you for low introductory rates but then if you read the fine print it will be limited to a certain amount of time.
  4. You’ll receive a letter from Comcast 14 to 16 days before the actual conversion date letting you know when your household will be moved to the Comcast network.

Also, make sure that you continue to pay your AP&T account because until the conversion you are still paying directly to AP&T.  Comcast has set up an “Alameda hotline” to answer any questions you may have 510-567-9350.

I just want to know if my old CableCards from AP&T will work in my Tivo and whether, as asked by Alameda NayTiff, can we go back to calling AP&T the Bureau of Electricity?

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41 Comments

  1. I vote for BOE

    Comment by John — November 14, 2008 @ 6:49 am

  2. Is there a link to the FAQ?

    Comment by alameda — November 14, 2008 @ 7:21 am

  3. Once again the “Bureau of Electricity” … Stalin would be proud :-)

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — November 14, 2008 @ 8:24 am

  4. Stalin would have liquidated you.

    (I never thought I’d have anything nice to say about Stalin)

    Comment by Robert Conquest — November 14, 2008 @ 8:50 am

  5. The speed on the cable internet is suddenly very slow. Hopefully not a sign of things to come.

    The only way the name should change is if not one additional dime is spent on it (beyond removing the &T part). If it doesn’t cost anything extra then I vote for Alameda Electric.

    Comment by Mike Rich — November 14, 2008 @ 8:54 am

  6. #4 Yes, Alameda is a haven for tolerance … unless, of course, your political ideologies are different, then the militant natives wish you dead. I love watching the chosen few bathe in hypocrisy … and thank you for underscoring my point.
    ;-)

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — November 14, 2008 @ 10:01 am

  7. As our electric utility gets back to its original mission, it is a good time for everyone to learn more about the agency to which Alameda Power belongs: The Northern California Power Agency. Check out their website. It has a wealth of information.

    Going to the “Climate Change” page will lead you to a very educational list of links on the subject.

    Looking over the roster of members of NCPA for ideas on what to call our power company when &T is officially gone, I looked at Roseville’s power utility Roseville Electric. Roseville’s Energy Park provides some food for thought regarding possible power production at the Northwest Territories parcel at Alameda Point. Not that a gas-fired plant would necessarily be the preferred choice as it was in Roseville, but that it is an opportunity to add another plus to our system in the form of locally produced electricity.

    The Public Utilities Board should host a series of workshops on the subject and re-introduce the public to the results of the consultants report from 4 years ago on the pros and cons of a power plant in or near Alameda.

    As far as the new name, I would vote for either Alameda Electric or Alameda Power. Bureau of Electricity sounds a bit archaic and doesn’t quite convey the current scale of the operation. None of the other NCPA member cities calls their power department a bureau.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — November 14, 2008 @ 10:50 am

  8. 4

    JRT:

    “Obnoxious bigoted asshole who adds nothing to the discussion” does not qualify as as an ideology. Neither does “being offensive for fun,” no matter how many smiley faces you paste in.

    Calling you out for your adolescent agression and petulant persecution complex is not hypocrisy. Your bleating for tolerance, however, is.

    Comment by dave — November 14, 2008 @ 11:17 am

  9. 8
    put that in caps and # 1 ‘ll make you # 4

    Comment by god # 2 — November 14, 2008 @ 12:21 pm

  10. I read in the paper today that there were actually 3 bids for the company. Although Comcast was the highest, I am wondering why we don’t sell it to one of the others to preserve competition? The reason that Alameda got into publicly owned cable was that the previous monopoly (purchased by Comcast eventually) was not responsive to consumers. With a monopoly again, we go back to square one.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — November 14, 2008 @ 1:09 pm

  11. Given the amount of money that has been lost on the telecom venture already, I wouldn’t blame anyone for going with the highest bid. Cable monopolies are best dealt with through anti-trust lawsuits, which should be left to Comcast’s competitors to pursue, or by consumers opting for satellite service.

    Comment by Mike Rich — November 14, 2008 @ 1:21 pm

  12. When the whole telecom venture started we were told that energy deregulation was going to sink the Bureau of Electricity and that we had to approve the expansion or face the consequences of higher taxes.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1998/11/05/MN32709.DTL&hw=bureau+of+electricity&sn=004&sc=530

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1998/10/20/MN90020.DTL&hw=bureau+of+electricity&sn=009&sc=484

    I like the rather Victorian sounding name of “Bureau of Electricity.” It was a name that was trusted for over 100 years. It is too easy for the city to just drop the “T,” but “Alameda Power” sounds more like something an angry crowd would chant than the name of a city agency.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — November 14, 2008 @ 2:12 pm

  13. #12, the reason I like Alameda Electric is because it is both specific and vague; could mean something other than a provider of electricity.

    Comment by Mike Rich — November 14, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

  14. I am partial to Bureau of Electricity, just because it sounds so authentic, but as a practical matter, it would probably help to have the city’s name in there somewhere, plus BoE doesn’t tell you too much. (I guess we can’t have A-MUD.) How do we find out what the final ultimate cost of the failed &T experiment will be? In particular, I have seen references to legal disputes with the bondholders and I’m not sure what that means as a final dollar figure. Thanks!

    Comment by DL Morrison — November 14, 2008 @ 3:44 pm

  15. And a suggestion on JRT: don’t feed the trolls.

    Comment by DL Morrison — November 14, 2008 @ 3:49 pm

  16. Sacramento is SMUD. I could live with A-MUD. Anybody go back to when there was a Berkeley band called East Bay Mud?

    Because they are so large and they apparently were able to secure a site, SMUD built a solar farmat least a decade ago, or at least that is what I recall being told on the tour of Alameda Power’s tour of their geothermal site.

    The tour is cool and you learn all about NCPA in the bargain.The various MUDs in Northern California have various contracts where by they but into production sources together. I think SMUD is so large that it is completely independent of NCPA.

    ANT, in my recollection the telecom ballot initiative preceded any talk of deregulation, but maybe I didn’t know enough of the impending deregulation to pay attention. The Green Party chapter of which I was part, had AP&T speak to us about deregulation. Municipal utilities were allowed to opt out and thankfully ours did or it would have gone the way of the telecom portion. The opt out of deregulation allowed us not to be effected by deregulation other than negotiating transmission of our power to the island from remote generation locations, which is how we got tagged by the black outs even though we had the power.

    Comment by Mark Irons — November 14, 2008 @ 4:36 pm

  17. Any word on what’s going to happen with Alameda Currents now that the T is gone?

    Comment by AD — November 14, 2008 @ 5:25 pm

  18. The Bureau of Electricity giving up its name is like Wells Fargo giving up its Stagecoach.

    Talk about pissing your inheritance away.

    “The City of Alameda’s Bureau of Electricity is the oldest municipal electric utility in the State of California and one of the oldest in the nation. In 1913, the “Alameda Electric Lamp Post” served as a model for the nation’s city street lighting systems. The citizen-owned Bureau of Electricity still stands at the forefront of the electric utility industry.

    In addition to providing electricity to our customers, the Bureau also supplies energy to and maintains the City’s streetlight system and assists customers in planning their electric conservation efforts.”

    http://web.archive.org/web/19970407121553/http://electricity.ci.alameda.ca.us/

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — November 14, 2008 @ 6:54 pm

  19. Being a fan of history and Alameda’s heritage, as well as recognizing the need to evolve, I nominate the name “Alameda Bureau of Electricity”, (preferably ABE, but could be ABOE). This would honor our department’s past accomplishments and prevent confusing the city’s BOE and AUSD’s BOE.

    Comment by David Kirwin — November 14, 2008 @ 7:34 pm

  20. #14
    “How do we find out what the final ultimate cost of the failed &T experiment will be? In particular, I have seen references to legal disputes with the bondholders and I’m not sure what that means as a final dollar figure. Thanks!”

    I would like to know as well. The local papers are a bit vague on this. The Journal says that:

    “Now, even with this deal, the city still will not get repaid for the $44 million in interfund advances. That had been an expectation at one point, but it didn’t happen.

    AP&T was facing a bond payment of $33 million in June. Those bondholders will be guaranteed at least $15 million in payment under the Comcast deal. The sale doesn’t resolve the ongoing lawsuits still hanging over the company, but it may curtail the damages. And there are additional costs the utility will have to pay to close the deal.”
    http://www.insidebayarea.com/alameda/ci_10977486

    The city has already grabbed some of our home equity with Measure P to try and maintain services. How big of an additional hit this will mean is unclear. It is one of the hazards of issuing bonds. Bonds are loans that have to be paid back. Defaulting on bonds or loans brings the borrower troubles, including having to pay a much higher interest rate in the future for borrowing. In other words, don’t borrow unless it is for something absolutely essential.

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — November 15, 2008 @ 6:45 am

  21. #20
    …Like a movie theater?

    When the deal was being discussed, and again when changing the road striping and laws pertaining to that section of Central was being decided, very high attendance projections were forecast, (IMO). Were reports ever made public as to how close these projection came to reality?

    Is there any question as to whether the theater is more important than Mastic Center and school crossing guards, and Art in the Park, and keeping Emmet Hood the public pool open, and so many other things that could be done with the same amount of money as the yearly cost of the Theater Project Related Bonds? (TPRB) What have been the costs of TPRB in these past years, and what is projected? How much city revenue was generated from Alameda Theater (AT) during the busiest summer season?

    We all knew the AT could never self-finance any more than a road repair, in fact Tony Daysog compared it to a Public Works CIP in that regard. It was hoped that the AT would generate so much more PSBArea foot traffic that sales tax would dramatically increase. Many stores are capturing more sales by staying open later, and new stores have opened. On the other hand, stores are failing and closing too, and it is impossible to distinguish the “AT boost” from economy effects, and the number of hours stores are open, or to what degree AT traffic has helped prevent worse scenarios for PSBArea.

    Clearly the financial effect of AT for our city was predicated on AT attendance. So what are the known numbers so far, how do they compare to predictions? I hope I am wrong, but I doubt they come close.

    Comment by David Kirwin — November 15, 2008 @ 8:18 am

  22. In my bill paying software, I have never changed the name from “Bureau of Electricity.” So I would like them to just change it back, or make it Alameda Bureau of Electricity.

    Comment by Kevis Brownson — November 15, 2008 @ 11:44 am

  23. ANT: Thanks for the response (and good link). I saw the article in the Journal that mentioned law suits w/ bond holders, and I don’t know how to factor that in, with the $33M payment due, plus the $44M borrowed from the electric side, plus whatever else, so I’m wondering how much of a “save” this sale really is. I agree that it’s necessary, but where does it leave us? I think too that before the city takes on any more debt, we should have an accounting of where the city stands right now.

    Comment by DL Morrison — November 15, 2008 @ 12:06 pm

  24. And also: comcast is going to hit us w/ higher bills. I was so glad to escape their greedy little grasp, but not for long.

    Comment by DL Morrison — November 15, 2008 @ 12:10 pm

  25. Here’s some information on SMUD’s solar capacity, both solar farm and commercial building roof top production.

    http://www.allbusiness.com/energy-utilities/utilities-industry-natural-gas/11493307-1.html

    http://uaelp.pennnet.com/display_article/342483/34/ARTCL/none/none/1/Solar-Performing-Brilliantly-/

    When the citizens voted to decommission Rancho Seco nuclear power plant SMUD started a solar farm on the grounds.

    Comment by Mark Irons — November 15, 2008 @ 1:53 pm

  26. Mark – if you are familiar with the contents of your links, a brief sentence or two summarizing content would be appropriate. We all know how to use Google to bring up more information than we want to wade thru. I appreciate that you are gathering information, but can you please state your point?

    Comment by 2busy readers — November 15, 2008 @ 11:17 pm

  27. I don’t think that this can be easily summarized.

    Alameda’s Utility in a World of Hurt

    A failing telecom effort, plus official shenanigans and poor communications, could leave city taxpayers on the hook for tens of millions of dollars.
    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/PrintFriendly?oid=297550

    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — November 16, 2008 @ 10:38 am

  28. This can be easily summarized … Alameda tends to hire stupid administrators :-)

    Comment by Jeff R. Thomason — November 16, 2008 @ 7:31 pm

  29. I’ve heard the cost of the failed experiment is $90 million. Did I get that from a reliable source? Well…..actually it was the Alameda Daily News (blush) but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong, does it? Anyway, I’m sure the Fickle Finger of Fate will descend upon our electric rates to help clean up the mess. We need to form a non-profit to raise money for Alameda homeowners who are continuing to have to ante up to pay for other people’s crappy ideas. How many bake sales do you think it will take to cover your share of the financial burden?

    Comment by Denise Shelton — November 17, 2008 @ 6:29 am

  30. Not bake sales, traffic and parking tickets. Be sure not to drive faster than 25 MPH, because the cops will be out in force, particularly at ends of month…

    Comment by E T — November 17, 2008 @ 8:34 am

  31. Let’s just paint all our curbs red.

    Comment by Jack Richard — November 17, 2008 @ 8:48 am

  32. 27 I understand. If SMUD’s solar farms are compelling to any potential reader, it’s not that much material to skim. In fact the pictures tell a lot. It seems to be about cheap access to lots of acreage, unless we use roofs of commercial buildings.

    Comment by Mark Irons — November 17, 2008 @ 8:53 am

  33. I cannot verify how true to reality this is, but could be a major improvement to solar:

    http://www.physorg.com/news144940463.html

    Solar power game-changer: ‘Near perfect’ absorption of sunlight, from all angles

    Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have discovered and demonstrated a new method for overcoming two major hurdles facing solar energy. By developing a new antireflective coating that boosts the amount of sunlight captured by solar panels and allows those panels to absorb the entire solar spectrum from nearly any angle, the research team has moved academia and industry closer to realizing high-efficiency, cost-effective solar power.

    [continues... follow link above....]

    Comment by Jack B. — November 17, 2008 @ 9:02 am

  34. I can’t quite come up with the right combination of words (Alameda + Power or Public + Electricity), but I want the acronym to be APE. Any suggestions?

    Comment by david burton — November 17, 2008 @ 9:07 pm

  35. Alameda Peoples Electricity.

    Comment by Jack B. — November 17, 2008 @ 9:08 pm

  36. #33 – All Roofs are solar collectors.

    Does anyone think codes should require new roofs to collect solar energy in a reusable fashion?

    Comment by Free energy — November 17, 2008 @ 10:15 pm

  37. We want “Alameda Green Power.”

    Comment by David — November 19, 2008 @ 6:11 pm

  38. Gosh, another David!

    GaD, can you please use another handle? Or include you last name, or if you want anonymity, use a pet name or somtang.

    Do you want ‘green power’, or do you want to call APT “Alameda Green Power”? While AP&T power is ‘greener’ than post public utilities, we are not at true green yet. I would still prefer “ABE” than “AGP” as stated in post #19.

    If you want real green power, you wouldn’t need AP&T, and that would not help their business or our city debt. I think the future holds much more distributed generation to help us all.

    For an interesting perspective on “Green Power” see the following clips on “Earthships”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7726T9RQUW4 While it would seem far fetched for Alameda development, it is not as ‘out there’ as UWI’s proposal, would not require the infrastructure costs to the city of Sun Cal’s plan, (what we had seen of it), and meet Measure ‘A’, but I’m not sure other local codes would permit Earthships in Alameda. Still it is incredibly fascinating to think of the possibilities. There have been other REAL sustainable communities built, including some in this area.

    Mike Corbett I think built the first solar community outside Davis in the early 1970′s. http://www.time.com/time/reports/environment/heroes/heroesgallery/0,2967,corbett,00.html “Village Homes” have really held their value, hard to ever find an available home in that community – Not just the solar, (Davis did not let them do their own sewage treatment, which had a design similar to that in the ‘Earthships’. A big part of the attraction of “Village Homes” has been the shared space concept that helps define and develop the “community”. I think ‘Village Homes would also meet MA, but I am not positive about that.
    Here is a really good brief on sustainable communities that reaches beyond free utilities: http://books.google.com/books?id=bt8_2rT49msC&dq=Mike+Corbett,+village+homes&pg=PP1&ots=0peaI6PNBl&source=bn&sig=dAPkBOfn4X9_SrDJ6tYzQQL8TKA&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result#PPA9,M1

    Sim Van der Ryn is another notable local who built a solar Village in Marin and also worked with Peter Calthorpe on a solar village in Oregon. http://www.cnu.org/node/2431

    I apologize for all the links, but as Alameda considers so much additional development, and our economy is crashing, and global warming is undeniable, (regardless of causes), it is important to keep our community learning about what kinds of developments are possible.

    I would like CASA to help educate the public along these lines. I have contacted “EarthShip Biotecture” and plan to hold an informational forum for the public at the library on Dec 9th. One of the ‘biotects’ will provide a presentation and Q&A session. Whether pertaining to Alameda development or not these are wild, and truly Green technologies which have come a long way since the 1970’s.

    Comment by David Kirwin — November 19, 2008 @ 10:56 pm

  39. I think it should stay AP&T to cover what is eventually going to happen to pay off any monies owed. “Alameda Power & Tax”

    Comment by MikeD — November 23, 2008 @ 7:57 am

  40. Anyone else hacked off about the transition from Alamedanet to Comcast? Not happy with how this is going.

    Comment by Zac Mutrux — December 2, 2008 @ 8:23 pm


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