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Friday, February 26, 2010

Former State Energy Commissioner, San Francisco Supervisor Blast PG&E before Legislators

Former California Energy Commissioner John Geesman and current San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi lambasted energy giant Pacific Gas & Electric for trying to stifle competition and kill customer choice with Proposition 16, a June state ballot measure. So far PG&E has indicated it will spend $35 million in ratepayer funds (already contributing over $10M) to campaign for Prop. 16, which would amend California's constitution to require a 2/3 vote anytime cities wanted to provide an alternative source of electric power from the for-profit utilities. This comes after PG&E was paid billions of dollars from ratepayers, to compensate the utility for all future financial losses from giving customers the right to have a choice back in the late 1990's PG&E’s  CEO, Peter Darbee, bungled drafting the constitutional amendment, which could not be repaired by the legislature without extraordinary effort. If approved, Prop 16 would also prevent dozens of California municipalities from providing electricity service to new home buyers or new businesses seeking to open their doors. 
The California Senate Energy Utilities and Telecommunications Committee and the California Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee had a hearing on Thursday, February 27 on the ballot measure. Geesman provided comments at the hearing on behalf of NO ON PROP 16, TAXPAYERS AGAINST THE PG&E POWER GRAB. Geesman is an attorney who served as Executive Director of the California Energy Commission when Jerry Brown was Governor, as the Chair of the California Power Exchange during the Energy Crisis, as a board member of California's power grid operator, the CaISO, and as an member of the California Energy Commission from 2002 to 2008. He is now co-chair of the American Council on Renewable Energy.
Geesman pubished his biting testimony at his blog, "Peter Darbee's dog of an initiative: 3 tapeworms eating away at the internal logic of Prop 16," on his PG&E Initiative Factsheet blog. He began his speech to legislators with devastating clarity: "Never, in all of that time or in any of those venues (of his 35 year career) have I seen political activity by a regulated utility so far outside the bounds of acceptable conduct as PG&E's sole sponsorship of the Constitutional Amendment politely referred to as Proposition 16." 
The piece speaks for itself and features excellent illustrative art, so I will directly quote Mr. Geesman and encourage you to visit his blog. Geesman told the state senators and assembly members in Sacramento yesterday:
"I am mindful of the contempt for the legislative process, reliance on deceptive wording, and resort to strong-arm tactics that are manifest in PG&E's campaign.  But today I want to take Proposition 16 at face value, and focus your attention on three tapeworms that eat away at the internal logic of the measure itself."

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