The California energy company, Pacific, Gas & Electric is out to help protect your voting rights, or so this ad would make it appear. However, the Yes on Prop 16 campaign masks the private utility company's effort to thwart local governments at a state level from exploring the economic viability of creating municipal energy solutions, thus actually eliminating local control.
Last month, the CA Attorney General staff's determined that the name of the proposition was misleading, and it renamed the proposition the "New Two-Thirds Vote Requirement for Local Electricity Providers". Despite the redubbing, this PG&E sponsored ad, as of today, continues to run on the NYTimes website, amongst other places.
Capitalizing on the anti-tax sentiment, creators of Proposition 16 purports to do one thing:
It requires voter approval before local governments can spend public money or incur public debt to get into the electricity business. And like most other major local special tax and bond decisions in California, this would require two-thirds voter approval.Opponents to the corporate backed Prop 16, "New Two-Thirds Vote Requirement for Local Electricity Providers"which includes former Energy Commissioner John Geesman, Assemblyman Mark Leno, and the League of Women Voters, assert that PG&E is trying to secure a monopoly on energy production in the state, not provide voters' right.
PG&E's board has authorized spending up to $35 million on this initiative. However, the local governments, municipal utilities, and irrigation districts targeted by this misleading Proposition are prohibited by law from spending anything to oppose it.
Former California Energy Commissioner, John Geesman wrote on his blog:
California's investor-owned utilities face a Himalayan task in modernizing our electricity system and building the infrastructure necessary to serve a growing economy. They ought to focus on that, rather than manipulating the electorate to kneecap their few competitors. Has there ever been a time when we needed greater downward pressure on electricity rates?
Several municipalities in California have successfully led shifts to municipal power, including Alameda County, Sacramento, Trinity Counties, Pasadena, and Sebastopol.
To date, PG&E has fought off communities attempting to consider municipal owned utilities one at a time. This effort at a statewide level is seen as a direct attack against movements in both San Francisco and Marin Counties, as well as other communities. In the recent past, San Francisco put forward several measures but PG&E grossly outspent the grassroots effort and the measure failed to pass. However, that has not dimmed the hopes of the municipal power activists, prompting PG&E's umbrella initiative effort.
For more information:
"Measure Protects PG&E, not Taxpayers," Redding.com
Yes on Prop 16
PG&E vs. Democracy