The PG&E stealth measure
December 27, 2009
Is Pacific Gas and Electric trying to pull a fast one on California voters next November? Los Angeles Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik certainly thinks so, at least based on his Sunday column.
According to Hiltzik, PG&E is the major force behind a proposed state ballot measure, called Taxpayers Right to Vote, currently waiting certification for the November 2010 election. Presented as a way to ensure good government, the initiative requires a two-thirds vote by residents of a municipality to approve certain expenditures or borrowings. However, as Hiltzik is quick to point out, the measure only applies to those setting up or expanding a municipal electric utility.
According to state campaign finance records, PG&E is the sole sponsor of the Taxpayers initiative, having already spent $3 million of ratepayers’ money in publicity and promotion. The goal: Hiltzik suggests it’s nothing more than pure greed. PG&E wants to preserve its monopoly against public power agencies.
“The Taxpayers Right to Vote Act is a dagger aimed directly at a movement to enable municipalities to offer renewable green power to their residents in competition with private utilities,” writes Hiltzik. “Their fear today is that these municipal utilities will undercut them on pricing and steal their customers.”
One San Francisco county supervisor quoted in the article has called PG&E’s strategy “reprehensible.”