A ballot initiative being pushed by a longtime anti-nuclear power activist would spell the end of the reign of San Diego Gas & Electric and other private-investor-owned utilities in the state of California if enacted next year by voters.
Ben Davis, who has in the past introduced unsuccessful measures that would effectively ban nuclear energy in the state, has until next April to gather just under 366,000 signatures to put before voters a plan to launch the California Electrical Utility District. The mega-utility would take over electrical generation and distribution in the portions of the state not already served by public utilities.
Existing municipal utility districts such as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) would have the option to join or work collaboratively with the proposed statewide entity, which would replace SDG&E and other investor-owned outfits, including Pacific Gas & Electric and SoCal Edison, which controls San Diego's now-defunct San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, co-owned by SDG&E.
Davis, a former SMUD advisory board member, says public utilities nationwide have rates about 15 percent lower than those run by for-profit entities. SMUD's rates, he notes, are 25 percent lower than the statewide average in investor-controlled territory like San Diego, which has some of the highest energy costs in the nation and produces industry-leading profits for SDG&E parent Sempra Energy.
In addition to lower prices, Davis promises the elimination of the investor-held operations would put to rest a series of scandals plaguing the industry's oversight panel.
If enacted, the new district would be endowed with the power of eminent domain to acquire power generation and transmission equipment as needed from the private sector.