Sacramento– The signatures of more than 30,000 California citizens who signed a “No Utility Bailout” petition on-line will be presented to Governor Davis today, as the Assembly debates passage of the Governor’s Edison Bailout+ plan.
The signatures were obtained at the website of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), a non-profit, non-partisan organization. Volunteers at FTCR’s Sacramento ‘war room’ will make the presentation on behalf of their fellow signers. The petition reads:
Since the advent of the deregulation debacle in 1996, ratepayers have been forced to fund billions of dollars worth of utility and energy company mistakes and manipulation, says FTCR. The petition demands an end to political efforts to place the burden of deregulation on to the backs of ratepayers.
“Californians will not put up with an Edison bailout and this petition marks the first step toward a ballot initiative that will be necessary if the politicians fail the public,” said Carmen Balber, organizing director for FTCR. “Governor Davis and Legislators can protect ratepayers over the next two weeks or face a ratepayer revolt for the next 15 months. The message of this petition is clear: we won’t pay for the failure of the utilities’ deregulation scheme.”
The petition, available at http://www.ratepayerrevolt.org, has been signed by Californians who have used FTCR’s special energy crisis web pages as a source of consumer-protection information throughout the spring and summer. Many of the signers are also subscribers to FTCR’s “Bailout Watch” newsletter, which is sent to lawmakers and media statewide via fax and e-mail. The newsletter counts down the number of days until politicians face the voters and a potential ballot initiative to undo the proposed bailout in November 2002. (There are 427 days before the election.)
Since the energy crisis began in San Diego more than a year ago, FTCR has pointed out that deregulation was sponsored by the utilities and energy companies but ultimate responsibility for its passage lies with state legislators who unanimously approved it in 1996. With the collapse of deregulation, FTCR and many other consumer advocates have called on politicians to protect ratepayers from utility company demands for a multi-billion dollar bailout by consumers. FTCR, which placed the 1998 utility reform initiative Proposition 9 on the ballot with other consumer groups, has consistently pledged to bring the issue to the ballot box if politicians foisted a utility bailout onto the state’s residential and small business ratepayers.