Monday, May 17, 2010

PG&E's Power Grab - NO on Proposition 16

As in years past, Californians are being bombarded by a raft of advertising for the upcoming June election. Most prominent this year are the proponents of proposition 16, dubbed the “Taxpayers Right to Vote Act,” who claim to be working to protect Californians from new taxes. In fact, Proposition 16 does nothing of the sort. If Prop. 16 passes, it will eliminate our ability to pick clean renewable energy producers, and guarantee the energy monopolies of the states largest private utilities.

The “coalition” in favor of Prop. 16 is actually a fiction created by the giant Northern Californian electricity monopoly, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), which is the sole sponsor of the campaign. PG&E is attempting to solidify its complete control over a large portion of the energy market in California, and it is using ratepayer funds - the money we pay to PG&E every month for electricity and gas service - to do it. According to the California Secretary of State, PG&E has already spent over $28 million on the effort, and has committed to spend over $35 million in total. Such a huge campaign war chest has allowed PG&E to pull out all the stops, inundating Californians mailboxes with flyers, purchasing radio, television, and internet advertising across the state, and telemarketing millions of homes.

PG&E’s attempt to manipulate voters as a means to pad their corporate profits could be but the latest example of the failure of California’s electoral system to protect the people from ravaging corporate interests. But it does not need to turn out this way. Voting NO on proposition 16 will give us the freedom to choose our energy future. But most importantly perhaps, voting NO will send a powerful message that our democracy cannot be simply bought.

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