Jeff Smith noon, March 8
- Community Blog
- Encanto Gas Holder
Proposition 16 False Fact: No Right to Vote?
"Today you do not have the right to vote when local government politicians want to spend your money to get into the electricity business" Alan Zaremberg, California Chamber of Commerce in San Diego Union-Tribune advertisement.
Actually, we do have the right to vote on a referendum to overturn any political decision to spend money on a municipal power company or community choice aggregation. A vote to overturn such a legislative act only requires a simple majority to pass, unlike the Proposition 16 constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority for us to approve municipal power expenditures.
This simple-majority referendum voting right is already part of our California Constitution in Article II: "The referendum is the power of the electors to approve or reject statutes or parts of statutes except urgency statutes, statutes calling elections, and statutes providing for tax levies or appropriations for usual current expenses of the State. ... An initiative statute or referendum approved by a majority of votes thereon takes effect the day after the election unless the measure provides otherwise."
There is something we do have no specific right to vote on: California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) decisions to raise investor-owned utility rates paid by power customers in a monopoly marketplace.
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), and Southern California Edison (SCE) have all submitted a joint application to CPUC to obtain permission to pass all uninsured wildfire legal expenses onto us as power utility customers (Application of San Diego Gas & Electric Company (U 902-M), Southern California Edison Company (U 338-E), Southern California Gas Company (U 904-G) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (U 39-M) for Authority to Establish a Wildfire Expense Balancing Account to Record for Future Recovery Wildfire-Related Costs).
After reviewing numerous CPUC filings by PG&E and other utilities, I believe that Proposition 16 is merely part of the attempt by investor-owned utility corporations to pass on those uninsured wildfire legal costs ("limitless" costs, according to CPUC's Division of Ratepayer Advocates) to us ratepayers, even if corporate utility negligence from overhead power lines was the wildfire cause. PG&E, SDG&E, and SCE have all testified to CPUC that utility employee negligence causing wildfires is an anticipated ordinary business activity, and as such CPUC must authorize the corporate utilities to collect from customers to pay for that negligence.
The Proposition 16 advertising is specifically false as to San Diego voters. We already have simple majority voter rights that are contained in the negotiated-in-good-faith San Diego 1970 electricity franchise agreement, something that SDG&E won't comment on in public to counter the false advertising in favor of Proposition 16.
I am not saying Zaremberg is a liar, but apparently he and everyone else at the California Chamber of Commerce does not know how to use a search engine to find out the law of the land. Based on that assessment, feel free to come to your own conclusions about Proposition 16 or any other constitutional amendment initiatives coughed up by PG&E's legal department.
Application of San Diego Gas & Electric Company (U 902-M), Southern California Edison Company (U 338-E), Southern California Gas Company (U 904-G) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (U 39-M) for Authority to Establish a Wildfire Expense Balancing Account to Record for Future Recovery Wildfire-Related Costs