Friday, June 04, 2010

People Are Talking About California’s Proposition 16

Proposition 16 is in the news recently because many people are feeling very adamant about a NO vote on the initiative that seems to benefit the utility company giant, PG and E. Santa Barbara’s states that Proposition 16 gives PG and E a monopoly on electricity.
  • “Prop 16 would change the California Constitution to require two-thirds supermajority vote before any municipality (city, county, district, etc.) could form its own nonprofit public utility, expand an existing publicly owned utility, or buy clean, renewable energy for the community at wholesale prices.”
The California initiative process was created in the early 1900s to empower citizens to enact legislation. Is big business using the initiative process for their gain? I took the liberty of looking up Proposition 16 in the California voter guide to get a more accurate look at both sides of the issue.

PG and E is said to have written the initiative and is the only one funding the campaign. PG and E is trying to keep its market share by force. Many people feel there are better ways to stay ahead: competitive prices and fulfilling its commitment to clean, renewable energy.

Some are worried that this change would prevent community choice in electricity. With community choice, a little-known option, a municipality could choose whether they wanted to power their homes with wind, solar, biomass, or even wave energy. So if your town wanted to use wind power, for instance, and take control over their impact on pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and prices, they could opt-out of the investor-owned utility company. Also, customers in your town could opt-out of the community choice and stay with the utility company, it’s their choice. If Prop. 16 passes, it means local governments would be required to receive two-thirds voter approval before they could start up electricity services or expand electricity service into a new territory. Some believe this puts local government spending in the hands of the taxpayer.

Coal is still being used as the primary electricity generator in California. See: Power companies aren’t meeting their goals for renewable energy statewide. And now some taxpayers feel that PG and E is trying to taking away their choice.

As with any proposition, voters need to be fully informed and the three sources below are a good place to start:

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