Arguments continued this week before the California Public Utilities Commission hearings on an initiative that would require local governments to obtain the approval of two-thirds of voters before providing a public electricity service program.
Proposition 16, which is on the ballot in the June 8 statewide election, is supported by PG&E, which sent senior vice president Nancy McFadden to the CPUC hearing in San Francisco.
McFadden said the company is backing the initiative because it "simply stands for the principle that voters should decide," rather than city councils or boards of supervisors, whether to opt out of PG&E and other investor-owned utilities and establish local public electricity programs.
However, opponents of the initiative said it would have the opposite effect, stifling the democratic process rather than making it more transparent.
San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who spoke at the meeting as well as at a rally held beforehand by opponents of Proposition 16, said PG&E is "not just trying to go around democracy, but trying to take democracy on and then subvert it."
No action was taken by the commission and the CPUC has yet to officially endorse or oppose the initiative. But commission President Michael Peevey, one of three commissioners at the meeting, said he agreed with one of the opinions of the Proposition 16 opponents.
"Philosophically, I have a problem with a two-thirds vote in any capacity," Peevey said. "That means 33 percent plus one is the effective majority."
The initiative will need just majority approval in the June 8 election to go into law.