PG&E (Again) Fights Reform Initiatives – Even Bankruptcy Can’t Diminish PG&E Greed
Citizens in San Francisco vote today on Propositions F & I, which would create a public power system for the San Francisco region to purchase and produce reliable power as a taxpayer owned entity independent of the privately held PG&E, which is currently in bankruptcy court. Also on the San Francisco ballot are Propositions H and B, to expand solar and wind power production.
Consumer advocates with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) are supportive of the proposals. The non-partisan group argues that a non-profit, public system for electricity is the best way to protect consumers from the failed deregulation system that has governed California energy policy for the last five years.
“The deregulation model allowed profiteers to take over our energy system, and PG&E‘s solution to the energy crisis is simply more deregulation, only with PG&E joining the profiteers,” said Doug Heller a consumer advocate with FTCR. “The real solution is to take the energy system back, and that’s what the ballot measures propose.”
Existing municipal utilities such as the Los Angeles DWP, Sacramento MUD and CPAU (City of Palo Alto Utilities), on which Propositions F and I are modeled, charge lower rates than PG&E and have not faced rolling blackouts. Nor are ratepayers in a public power system required to pay excessive executive salaries or the millions in lobbying and campaign contributions paid by private utilities such as PG&E.
FTCR notes that although PG&E‘s original deregulation plan devastated Californians and the economy and left the company in bankruptcy, it is still fighting efforts to reform the deregulation scheme. The company was a chief opponent of the statewide deregulation reform initiative of 1998, Proposition 9, spending $17 million to defeat it. It is no surprise to groups familiar with PG&E, that they have spent over $1.5 million to fight these local initiatives.
According to Mark Reback, a consumer advocate with FTCR: “In the five years since Governor Wilson signed the deregulation bill written by PG&E, consumers have been hurt at every turn, and none of the promises — lower rates, customer choice, energy diversity or a competitive wholesale market — have been realized. Rather than rates falling by 20% as promised, PG&E customers face rates that are 40% higher than prior to deregulation. But in recent years they have spent over 20 million to defeat deregulation reform efforts and are at it again.”
Also on the ballot are Props. H and B, which would provide funding for clean, renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, along with energy conservation programs that will benefit the residents, businesses, neighborhoods and the environment of the San Francisco Bay area.
“One important lesson of California’s failed deregulation experiment is that fuel diversification is not spurred by so-called market forces,” said Reback. “In fact, deregulation left California dangerously dependent on fossil fuels easily controlled by the domestic energy cartel. Fuel diversity is essential to a reliable power system and the opportunity to increase green power afforded by Props H and B will provide for a more reliable energy system for San Francisco consumers.”