Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yes or No on California Proposition 16, 2010?

The official ballot summary prepared by the Office of the Attorney General of the State of California says:

"Requires local governments to obtain the approval of two-thirds of the voters before providing electricity to new customers or expanding such service to new territories if any public funds or bonds are involved. Requires same two-thirds vote to provide electricity through a community choice program if any public funds or bonds are involved. Requires the vote to be in the jurisdiction of the local government and any new territory to be served. Provides exceptions to the jurisdiction of the voting requirements for a limited number of identified projects."

PG&E's (Diablo Canyon Power Plant is part of PG&E) response:

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As California learned during the 2000-2001 energy crisis, when government takes on the added responsibility of serving as an electricity provider, customers and taxpayers can be forced to take on billions of added debt that can take decades to repay with no assurance of any benefit.

We are encouraged by the backing Proposition 16 has already received throughout the state. On November 16, 2009, the committee supporting the initiative turned in more than 1.1 million signatures to local registrars. On January 12, 2010, the Secretary of State certified it for the June 8 ballot.

In the months ahead, we expect that support will continue to grow as more taxpayers learn about Proposition 16. We hope this will include every member of the PG&E team, and we encourage you to help get the word out about the importance of this measure. You’ll be hearing more in the near future about opportunities to do just that. In the meantime, for more information, click here for frequently asked questions, or click here for a link to the Taxpayers Right to Vote Web site.

Thank you.
Peter Darbee
Chairman, CEO and President
PG&E Corporation

Chris Johns
President
Pacific Gas and Electric Company

35 comments:

Jeremy said...

Since the conservative wing of the supreme court has given corporations the right to unlimited interference in federal elections, I suppose it is no surprise that PG&E thinks it should be able to write the laws under which it does business. California's proposition system is a big mess.

Paul Fenn said...

First, it takes away your choices on who provides you with electricity.
Second, it makes it easier for electric utilities in California to raise your electricity rates.
Prop 16 is being promoted by a massive power monopoly actively seeking to block independent renewable energy development in California.
It’s cleverly written, because the backers of Proposition 16 want to fool the voters. They say this measure is about protecting taxpayers.
But what it really protects is the monopoly enjoyed by a giant, for-profit electric utility.
You should be allowed to have more choices in who provides your electricity, if those choices would give you lower cost and better service. But Proposition 16 says No.
No choice in the source of your electricity. No lower-cost green energy. No choice and higher rates. That’s what Proposition 16 does to you.
Who is the sole sponsor of Prop 16?
PG&E, the largest for-profit utility in the state. As of today, PG&E has contributed $6.5 million to the “yes” campaign and signaled they’re prepared to spend tens of millions more. PG&E was the only contributor to put this proposition on the ballot.
Why? Again, PG&E wants to protect its monopoly. Prop 16 isn’t about protecting taxpayers – it’s about protecting PG&E’s for-profit monopoly on electricity.
Just read the ballot title and summary, and you’ll see. The Redding Record said “The point (of Prop 16) isn’t to protect taxpayers rights. It’s to protect the profits of a monopoly utility.” The Sacramento Bee said Prop 16 “enshrines unfair protections against competition for PG&E, one of the richest, most powerful corporations in the state, into the California Constitution.”
As the Fresno Bee put it, “The PG&E ballot measure (Prop 16) is another troubling example of the initiative process going dangerously awry in California, of a powerful special interest seizing the initiative process for its own narrow benefit.”
AARP urges NO ON PROP 16 because by removing competition, Prop 16 means higher electricity costs for you. A No vote protects you against the potential for crippling rate hikes.
The Consumer Federation of CA says VOTE NO because like Wall Street, PG&E paid huge bonuses to its executives, even after it went bankrupt and ratepayers bail it out. Now PG&E wants to lock-in its monopoly once and for all – so smaller, local nonprofit utilities are not allowed to compete.
Sierra Club says VOTE NO because Prop 16 requires a 2/3 supermajority vote before communities can purchase green power at wholesale prices – keeping your rates higher and insuring the for-profit monopoly that currently sells you power stays in control.
Prop 16 “is a dagger aimed directly at a movement to enable municipalities to offer renewable green power to their residents in competition with private utilities,” said Michael Hiltzik, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
And some of the worst damage of Proposition 16 will be done to the many Californians who aren’t PG&E customers. Prop 16 is so restrictive that it could require municipal redevelopment and smart growth projects anywhere in the state to undergo costly special elections just to get their lights turned on. Prop 16 could cripple local governments and undermine local control over infrastructure planning – all to benefit a giant energy corporation.
Don’t be fooled by PG&E’s $ Millions of deceptive advertising. Get the facts at powergrab.info, and check PG&E’s long donor lists to see the hundreds of California political and civic organizations that regularly receive money donations from PG&E. Say NO to another wasteful initiative that says one thing but really does something very different. Vote No on Prop 16 to preserve local control, keep money in your pocket and to protect your utility choices.

Myles Blackwood said...

I concur with the stated arguments. "Yes on 16" is funded primarily by PG&E, who more or less winds up being the sole beneficiary of this piece of legislation if it is passed. (That is a *BAD* thing for those of you who missed the point there.)

So, while I am FOR having a choice in who says what in political elections, the fact remains that corporate control of our elections is ultimately going to be the end of Democracy as it was intended. To further cause of arguing the case against PG&E's motives to push this forward, what the ultimate effect of the bill will be if it is put in place is the voter's will of having a monopoly controlled energy source for the entire state municipality. This is also a *BAD* thing, as it will surely wind up causing the state to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on the court cases that follow in the disenfranchising the control of these power sources by PG&E. It would also allow the for most likely probable cause for PG&E to raise rates whenever it chose to do so.

That said, let it be known that there is interest in having individual city municipalities control their own power production, and that having diversity in such a case is better for regulation of power as a whole, for everyone in the state.

Myles Blackwood said...

And, as a quick follow up:

"NO on 16" is better for the people's pocketbooks at the end of the day.

Edward said...

I think the blogger's history of the events that occurred in 2000-2001 are being misrepresented here. The state had to bail out the private interests that created the supply gap which resulted in massive price hikes and rolling brown outs. Enron ring a bell? "Burn, baby, burn!"? No... ? I suppose in ten years we'll be blaming the government and not the banks for the financial crisis of 2009. Proposition 16 was created so power interests could politically influence the outcome of government measures designed to prevent what happened in 2001 from happening again. Vote no.

palaeologos said...

If PG&E's for it, that's a good reason to be against it. Having lived in 3 states and dealt with as many power companies, PG&E's incompetence and indifference is absolutely shocking. This proposition is nothing but a big blank check for them; vote no.

Keith said...

We have one of the best governments money can buy, and PG&E must make the progressives who started the initiative process 100 years ago spin in their graves. I hope Californians have the common sense that supermajority votes simply cede democracy to the minority.

jagged ben said...

Where is the NO on 16 website?

Is there no campaign that people can even give money to yet?

(aaack!)

jagged ben said...

As a follow up, seems like the best thing out there at this point is the No on 16 Facebook group. (At least there is one...)

Theresa said...

I work for a small Publicly Owned Utility in far Northern California. I believe out of the the 40 publicly owned utilities in California almost all oppose this proposition. It is totally backed by PG&E and surprize...PG&E benefits by squashing publicly owned utilities. These POU's have rates on average 25% less then PG&E, they are not for profit and are owned by the people they serve, not by stakeholders and investors. The facebook page for No on 16 has 4 fans, the "Right to Vote" Yes on 16 has over 12,000!!! 12,000. We need to wake these people up!! California Municipal Utility Association, and a handful of other POU's have filed a lawsuit asking the courts to remove this deceitful propostion from the June ballot. I encourage you to support this! Also, if you want to know what the publicly owned utilities are doing for our customers, the environment and to conserve energy and encourage energy efficiency, visit ncpa.com and check out the Energy Efficiency report. It's amazing what you can do when you're not motivated by money and greed.

Anonymous said...

THIS is the kind of the the Tea Party should be protesting.

Myles Blackwood said...

@Anonymous-

yes, but i think it has to many multi-syllabic words on it to make any sense of it. They would just see "GOVERNMENT CONTROL" and then screw it all up.

Tom said...

This is another example of abuse of the California's proposition process. PG&E wants people to think that they need this misguided proposition to preserve their "right to vote". We don't need this. We still vote to elect legislators to represent us on matters like whether government should be in the electric power business. We really don't want to have to vote personally on every decision government makes.
PG&E is abusing the proposition system and insulting voters by lying to them in their TV ads and web sites. Let's show them that we are really not as stupid as they think we are and vote down Prop 16.

Myles Blackwood said...

Tom-
I agree 100%.

Daniel said...

The campaign PG&E and friends are lobbying is beyond deceitful. The idea that the power problems and rolling blackouts in 2000/2001 were a problem of GOVERNMENT is an incredible revision of history. Remember, the state of CA DE-regulated, and companies (ahem *ENRON*) manipulated markets and gouged the state out of billions.

Robert said...

Have any of you watched the LA DWP rate increase pressure lately. They are no better than the private enterprise you are calling out. Choose your bed partner carefully.

Anonymous said...

PGE corporate control of our elections is ultimately going to be the end of Democracy as it was intended. Vote NO on Prop 16!

Anonymous said...

Vote yes on prop 16 if as a student you want to pay higher tuition fees. and you think
32% tution increase is too little. We need to be happy to pay 64% and cut class down to one day on sunday.

Vote yes on prop 16 if you think public libraries should be banned only churches should be able to have libraries.

vote yes on prop 16 if you live on a private paved road and think everyone else including people in wheelchairs ought to ride on dirt roads.

Vote yes on 16 if you want to pay 3/4 of your income for your apartment and you hate the idea of rent control.

Vote yes if you thinkPete Wilson and Prop 187 are kind hearted to your kkkind of Amerikkka and Klan

Anonymous said...

Even if I were in favor of this proposition, I would vote No because of the outrageous amount of money being thrown into almost non-stop advertising. I am sick and tired of big corporations making decisions about the choices in my life. I want choices, to everything possible in my life. I have been physically and financially damaged by the decisions made by corporations that took away my choices and do not take responsibility for the damage they do. No on prop 16.

Anonymous said...

OK, so the CEO of PG&E is saying that CA taxpayers will not have to bear the cost of any Enron type pricing of energy in CA? Can he back that up with a personal guarantee against his own millions? Or are these just empty words?

Hollis said...

If this passes then any community can be held up like the victim of a strong armed robbery. A utility in trouble can say, pay my rate or we shut down and cut off the power. The local government won't be able to buy the utility so the rate payers will be forced to pay. The PUC, faced with an eminent cut off of power supply will be bludgeoned into giving higher rates. The PUC is gutless as a protector of the consumer and this will further dissipate any power by the PUC.

Hollis said...

Notice the collusion between the Jarvis people, fronting the Yes on 16 campaign, and PG&E, This is as clear a picture as one will ever get of the corrupt and dishonest people who pushed Prop 13 and destroyed education, local government, and the budget process for the state of California. We the people must stop these crazy right wing anarchists who seek to destroy responsible government.

Bobby Shafto said...

If Prop 16 were "democratic" it would be decided by a 50% + 1 majority.

Anonymous said...

All we see are the "Vote Yes on Prop 16" ads.. People need to wake up and realize this is wholly funded by PG&E, and will remove any competition PG&E may have in the future.

People who don't try to inform themselves will only see the slick PG&E ads on T.V., not knowing a "yes" vote is in reality against their best interests. It's sad that this can happen in this country.

Anonymous said...

I was just trying to remember the last time PG&E did somethiing to help me, or the last time they REDUCED my electricity rates, or when it was they let me slide when I couldn't pay my electricity bill. OH Now I remember...NEVER! Now they want me to believe they are watching out for me and my rights? They are watching out for thier shareholders fat wallets. PERIOD. They want to remain a monopoly and drive energy rates thru the roof. They have spent millions to squash Community Choice Programs in Calif. Cities and Counties who have tried to supply energy to thier communities at a much cheaper rate have been strong armed, lied to, stalked, had offices broken into and information stolen by PG&E as if PG&E were the mafia and thought they owned the world. The "Vote NO" people are all Public Agencies who cannot (by law) spend a dime of public funds to fight the misleading Proposition 16. NO Public Agencys cannot use "unlimited amounts of public funds" to buy and run energy plants. YOU STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS for lower energy rates. VOTE NO ON 16.

Brian said...

I'm inclined to vote against most propositions, especially if it is from a single donor and seems to benefit them primarily...

However, I have to ask you guys, why would the government be the competition to PG&E?

In other words, what is it in Prop 16 that prevents a private group -- not the government -- to create an electricity co-op or company, with their own private funds?

If the government were to create such an entity, I would certainly want for there to be a vote of the people!

PG&E actually does have competition already: you can install solar power on your roof, or put a solar thermal dish in your backyard.

As far as the PUC having no power, that would be an issue the Legislature needs to fix, right? Not fix by the government creating an entity to replace the private utility.

--Brian

Patricia Randall said...

I agree with the very intelligent comments against Proposition 16, for relevancy, however, please learn how to spell check before you put a spot on television spelling goverNment wrong.

russ said...

I don't understand the "Taxpayer's right to vote" proposition.
Taxpayers should have the right to vote, but wher I come from, the majority rules, with despect for minority rights.
I don't mind the proposition, but the result should be based on the majority (50% +1) vote.
This proposition is a phony just on the basis of its title!

marlena said...

Check this out: http://californiafirst.org/participating.html

This program will finally make it possible for LOTS of people to have solar and other energy saving efficiencies added to their home.

It is going to be paid for by selling bonds, after the initial offering (the 2/3 vote will be required to sell the bonds- which we've already seen does not work). That is just fine with PG&E, but not with me.

I'm in favor of choices, and we won't have any if prop 16 passes. With the sale of those bonds, there is no limit to the program, which will eventually be a national one. PG&E is owned by Duke... get the picture?

Anonymous said...

Just regular folks? You are president of PG&E. Of course you are in favor of 16. Your company has paid 6 million dollars (through Feb 2010) to promote a scare campaign. If we bought electricity from some other providers (bio fuel, solar, etc), not likely in the short term, but your income would reduce as a result.
Apparently, your company hasn't been developing these sources on your own, and fear competition from others who do.

Anonymous said...

So PG&E has $44 million to pass Prop 16 to try to block more cost effective municipal power systems ( which lowering power bills) but not enough money or equipment to replace the major power grid towers in California that are rusted out because for decades PG&E failed to coat the steel towers routinely with sealant to keep them from rusting. And where did that $44 million come from? From us. PG&E never lets us vote when they spend our money not doing their job. I wonder how much PG&E is going to bill us for those towers when more of them fall down?

Myles Blackwood said...

@Anonymous, who said...

"So PG&E has $44 million to pass Prop 16 to try to block more cost effective municipal powe...."

Bravo. Excellent. Don't be anonymous. be one of us!

NO on Prop 16!

Anonymous said...

Ralph said.......

All three privately owned Utilities (PG&E etc) were bailed out at taxpayer expense after they declared bankruptcy. Their conniving cost California BILLIONS and they are partly responsible for the current budget deficit.

Among the 48 municipal utilities spread across California, there is not one single example of a white elephant. Nor any history of a taxpayer bailout. Or a bankruptcy. No Public Power operation has ever lost money.
see: http://pgandeballotinitiativefactsheet.blogspot.com/2010/05/la-county-republicans-aint-buying-it.html

PUBLIC POWER is a good deal that saves ratepayers hundreds of dollars every year in utility bills.
SEE: http://www2.dcn.org/orgs/localpower/

Anonymous said...

I don't see how this measure "takes away your choice on who provides you with electricity". Doesn't it actually put the choice in your hands by making sure it's voted on? As opposed to having your elected officials make the decision for you? Switching energy providers is a pretty big deal, shouldn't it be on a ballot instead of in the hands of a few? Isn't that the definition of democracy?

Let's not forget the disaster that occurred earlier this decade in the energy crisis. Although "monopoly" is bad word, there are some types of businesses, namely those that require large capital costs to service certain geographic areas, like eletricity, cable, phone, gas, etc., where it makes sense. Maintaining a huge infrastructure is so expensive and complex that splitting it up too much actually increases cost because synergies are lost.

John said...

Ok, I am confused. The ads all say that we would have no vote unless 16 is passed. Gee, I thought we were in a democracy and as that is defined we elect representatives to decide measures like this. We still do get the right to elect our leaders don't we, even here in California? So they are not giving us the right to vote they are removing our right to have our elected representatives make these decisions. Vote NO on this blatant attempt to remove our rights.