Manuel Cunha, president of the Nisei Farmers League, has hit a roadblock in his long-running effort to address air quality issues in the valley, alongside the Western Agricultural Processors Association. 

“Utility companies have held us hostage,” he told Rep. Jim Costa of the San Joaquin Valley during a townhall meeting last week.

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Time-of-use rates introduced by PG&E and other companies have led to uncertainty over actual rate charges and to cheaper power being available only at inconvenient times, he said.

“Standby charges have gone off the chart, because PG&E and those folks have to pay for the lawsuits over what they've done with fires,” said Cunha.