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P.G & E. & Prop 16. Strange Bedfellows

Original post made by Nosy Neighbors, Pleasanton Heights, on May 20, 2010

Any time I hear, "taxpayers rights, freedom to/from" followed by a barrage of media attention & advertising I get suspicious. Are they really trying to protect our "freedoms" & best interests or are there other ulterior motives that are driving this measure that just happens to be funded by PG&E?

The fact that you can't go almost a single commercial break without hearing a Yes on 16 add means that PG&E is shelling out some serious cash to see this pass. With the possible consequences of loosing as much as 25% of their customer base to independent municipal provided power (which for all you green folks could mean wind, solar, geo thermal generated, etc.) they stand to loose their monopoly on the energy providers for the state.

Web Link

Comments (6)

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Posted by pg&e hostage
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 20, 2010 at 1:34 pm

PG&E wrote prop 16 to insure that we will forever be trapped hostages to anything they want to do TO us...smartmeters, increased rates,...anything. Once they've guaranteed themselves a sweet monopoly, we've had it. They have not figured out how to provide enough electricity for both our ACs and cars....they know they are sitting on a timebomb ! That's why I haven't allowed them to install a smartmeter, which would allow car power over my AC, when we are on overload. They should be working on providing power, instead of ways to protect their tails. Vote NO on PG&Es Prop 16. The millions they are spending on this, could have gone to working on OUR they are going to stick it to us on rate increases.

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Posted by logical
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 20, 2010 at 2:17 pm

How would a Smart meter allow car power over your AC?????? The Smart Meter measures your power usage just like the old meters - it doesn't select which devices/appliances you're allowed to use "when we are on overload." Strange and paranoid logic....

Of course I can understand why PG&E would want prop 16 to pass, but don't really think the alternative would necessarily be better. Without prop 16, you have no vote if the city decides it wants to take over your power supply. Is government run better? Check ALL the facts before you vote.

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Posted by pg&e hostage
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 20, 2010 at 3:33 pm

We certainly DO & WOULD continue to have a vote!. pg&e just wants to negate any future votes we would have regarding pg&e UNLESS we won over them with at least TWO-THIRDS of all the votes.. giving pg&e a nice protective shield.
Hey Logi, they are called SMART meters. All the fuss is NOT about replacing OLD meters with more OLD logical ! Their capibilities are greatly expanded.
During car peak overload periods, the rest of us will be charged a higher tier price at that time. They say we can'save' money during those peak times, by shutting off our AC. That is a NOT a solution. Their JOB is to provide me power ! If they're not up to it, we'll get somebody else!. Of course a solution would be for cars to providing and paying for their own power....of their choice. Paying at a charge station, or their own solar, But, it should not be drained off our neighorhood sub-stations. IF there was ABUNDANT power the choices would't be such a problem. BUT, for LOTS of reasons, and LOTS of dumb people, we DO NOT have abundance of power.
(that would mean adding several more nuclear plants).

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Posted by mark
a resident of another community
on May 20, 2010 at 6:17 pm

PG&E is backing this for one reason. To give them a monopoly. If you think that they will spend that kind of money to benefit us, while taking away there future business proffits you are crazy. This bill benefits PG&E only.

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Posted by M.
a resident of Downtown
on May 20, 2010 at 10:36 pm

M. is a registered user.

The smart meters have no such magic powers to turn of anything in your home. Ask yourself how exactly that would work. All the device does is meter the usage on your line.

Seriously though saying the smart meter can turn off you ac or computer or whatever is like saying a tin can can drive a car. Don't be so gullible.

Am I in favor of prop 16, hell no.

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Posted by Rae
a resident of Mohr Park
on May 21, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Proposition 16 is not about protecting the taxpayer as PG&E would have you believe. Proposition 16 is *all* about protecting PG&E’s monopoly and infrastructure.

As the sole sponsor of Proposition 16 PG&E has invested more than $25 million dollars so far to pass Prop 16. Let me repeat that . . . $25 million dollars. Do you really think a huge, for-profit corporation like PG&E would spend $25 million of its profit to protect taxpayers? Web Link

Oh, PG&E makes it sound good. In the Voter Information Guide they talk about "tough economic times" and "protection against costly and risky government schemes to take over local electric service." Oh, and don't forget those hot buttons "government spending out of control" and "mounting government debt." Don't be fooled by PG&E rhetoric. Proposition 16 is not a referendum from the taxpayer movement.

PG&E’s 1Q2010 profits were $258 million, 7% higher than last year at this time. “PG&E credited its improvement to higher revenues from capital investments” and says that the profits would have been even higher if it had not “spent $25 million in the first quarter to support Proposition 16, the upcoming ballot measure that would change the state Constitution to require two-thirds approval by local voters to form a municipal utility.” Note that “PG&E does not earn profits based on how much energy it sells. Instead, state regulators allow the company an 11.3% rate of return on the money PG&E invests in infrastructure such as power plants and electric meters.” Web Link

PG&E profits from infrastructure, power plants and electric meters. That’s key to understanding why they need Prop 16 to pass. Today, several communities in California are looking at local public power options as alternatives to PG&E. These options include a publicly owned electric utility like a municipal utility (muni) or a community choice aggregation (CCA). Any loss of territory to a muni or CCA will negatively impact PG&E’s profit. Peter Darbee, (Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President of PG&E Corporation) told investors at a recent PG&E Investor Conference, that PG&E could “greatly diminish this kind of activity for all going forward rather than spending $10 to $15 million a year of your money” fighting on a community by community basis to stop munis and CCAs if Prop 16 passes. Web Link

PG&E would have you believe that a local government could just slide our electric service over to a publicly provided power source without our input or vote. Not true.

“To establish a muni, a local government must hold an election and obtain majority voter approval. Once established, a muni is governed by a board of directors, which is elected by the voters. The board makes all decisions for the muni, including concerning the provision of electricity service. The board may issue bonds subject to 2/3 voter approval. The board must generally hold a public hearing before expanding its service territory. When expanding service into a city, a majority of the city’s voters must approve the decision to join the muni with 2/3 voter approval if the city is to assume any indebtedness of the Muni.”
Web Link

With a CCA, a local government must hold public hearings to consider and adopt an implementation plan for a CCA. However, since there is no requirement for direct voter approval, after deciding to establish a CCA, the local government is strictly bound by rules established by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and must receive that agency’s ongoing approval and authorization.

In addition, Proposition 16 does not provide any new taxpayer protection related to voting on tax or bond measures. Prop 16 language states it “shall not apply to any bonded or other indebtedness or liability or use of public funds that has been approved by the voters within the jurisdiction of the local government and within the territory to be served, if any, prior to the enactment of this section.” As for future taxes or bonds, taxpayers *already* have the “right to vote” on new local taxes and bonds; a supermajority 2/3 voter approval is also *already* required.

But hang on, there is a real kicker in Prop 16. The way this legislation is written, unless the local government is the “sole electric delivery source provider” in its community, a 2/3 voter approval is required to “establish or expand electric delivery service” for any new home or business requiring power. With the advent of solar power systems, cogeneration projects, and direct access contracts, its doubtful that any local government is the “sole provider”. Since the term “sole provider” is not defined in Prop 16, it is unclear whether or not every single new home or business built in a community or new territory will require a 2/3 voter approval to provide it with electrical service. That ambiguity is OK with PG&E, because as Peter Darbee said to his investors “we'll mend any broken fences” after Prop 16 is passed. Of course, since this is a CA Constitutional amendment, it will take another ballot measure and/or a court to “mend” any problems.

I urge you to put aside the “taxpayer protection” rhetoric around this proposition and look at what PG&E is really trying to accomplish with its $25 million+ investment and vote NO on Prop 16.

For more information:
Text of Prop 16: Web Link

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