Committee on Government Affairs March 1, 2010
California Proposition 16 (June 2010)
If the initiative is approved by voters, it will make it more difficult than it is currently for local entities to form either municipal utilities, or community wide clean electricity districts called Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs). Forming a local municipal utility or a CCA, if this measure is enacted, will require the approval, through election, of 2/3rds of the voters who live in the area of the would-be local municipal utility or CCA.
Pacific Gas & Electric is the primary financial sponsor of the initiative. They refer to the initiative as the California Taxpayers Right to Vote Act.
The proposed constitutional amendment would require a two-thirds majority vote of local voters before a local government could:
- Establish a Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program
- Use public funding to implement a plan to become a CCA provider
- Expand electric service to new territory or new customers.
The CCA program, established in 2002, allows local governments to purchase blocks of power to sell to residents, and to construct municipal electricity generation facilities, which means that cities and counties can become competitors to private utilities.
The official ballot summary prepared by the Office of the Attorney General of the State of California says:
- "Requires local governments to obtain the approval of two-thirds of the voters before providing electricity to new customers or expanding such service to new territories if any public funds or bonds are involved. Requires same two-thirds vote to provide electricity through a community choice program if any public funds or bonds are involved. Requires the vote to be in the jurisdiction of the local government and any new territory to be served. Provides exceptions to the jurisdiction of the voting requirements for a limited number of identified projects."
The name of the campaign committee sponsoring the measure is "Californians to Protect Our Right to Vote."
The official proponent of the initiative is Robert Lee Pence, who was listed as an opponent of California Proposition 80 (2005).Pence's firm has been paid $62,500 for its work promoting the measure.
Arguments in favor
Greg Larsen of Larsen Cazanis, a Sacramento public relations firm, is the paid spokesperson for the measure. He says, "Why shouldn't the people who are going to pay the bill have the right to vote on that?"
- See also: California political consultants
- Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Mueller & Naylor has been paid $213,537 through February 9. The Sacramento law firm prepared and filed the text of the initiative, and may perform other legal work on behalf of the sponsor.,
- Larsen Cazanis, a Sacramento public relations firm, has been paid $175,000 through February 9, 2010.
- Direct Voices, a subsidiary of Arno Political Consultants, has been paid $2,199,794 through February 9.
- Nine California state senators sent a letter to PG&E President Peter Darbee in which they said that they believe Proposition 16 is "misguided as a matter of public policy." The letter was signed by senators Darrell Steinberg, Mark Leno, Jenny Oropeza, Lois Wolk, Christine Kehoe, Alan Lowenthal, Gilbert Cedillo and Dean Florez.,
- The editorial board of the San Francisco Guardian said on September 22, 2009 that "this is a profoundly important issue, and every elected official, city council, board of supervisors, and utility agency in the Bay Area needs to immediately come out in opposition and start organizing to defeat it."
- The Palo Alto City Council voted by 9-0 in early February to pass a resolution against Proposition 16. The city is worried that if Proposition 16 passes, it might make it harder for the city to buy new non-renewable production or transmission facilities outside its borders.
Elisabeth Brinton, director of communications for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, a public utility, says:
- The initiative reduces the ability of people to choose between private and public utility companies. "It really goes to the heart of the right of people to have choices, that’s the intent of this measure. It’s horrendous."
- Holding local elections where people vote on whether to have a private or public utility company would be expensive: "The cost of doing these elections, the whole process is really extraordinary.”
Michael Hiltzik, a Los Angeles Times columnist, says:
- This measure proves that California's initiative process has become "a plaything of powerful interests using deception and misdirection to line their pockets."
- "The Taxpayers Right to Vote Act is a dagger aimed directly at a movement to enable municipalities to offer renewable green power to their residents in competition with private utilities."
An analysis of the fiscal estimate to the state if this initiative is approved by voters was provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office. That analysis says:
- "Unknown impact on state and local government costs and revenues, depending on future voter decisions, due to the measure's potential effects on electricity rates and publicly owned utility operations."
Path to the ballot
- See also: California signature requirements
The Office of the California Secretary of State announced on January 12, 2010 that Proposition 16 had qualified for the June 8, 2010 ballot. As an initiated constitutional amendment, the supporters of Proposition 16 needed to submit 694,354 valid signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot.
The petition drive management company "Direct Voice" was hired to collect signatures to qualify the proposition for the ballot. Direct Voices is a subsidiary of Arno Political Consultants. They were paid $2,199,794 through February 9 to collect signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot.
- Letter requesting a ballot title for 09-0015
- Website of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), an example of a public utility
- Campaign finance reports of "Californians to Protect Our Right to Vote"
- ↑ San Francisco Chronicle, "PG&E initiative on power suppliers on ballot", January 14, 2010
- ↑ Capitol Weekly, "Initiative backers submit paperwork promising a busy 2010 cycle", October 22, 2009
- ↑ Text of Taxpayer's Right to Vote Act
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Fox and Hounds Daily, "Money Flows for PG&E Power Initiative", November 9, 2009
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 San Francisco Bay Guardian, "PG&E attacks consumer choice", June 17, 2009
- ↑ 6.0 <a title="http://ballotpedia.or