I wasn’t keeping tabs on the state’s campaign finance database whilst floating around on the idyllic Russian River last week, but I see there wasn’t too terribly much action while I was on vacation – except the second $750,000 installment that Pacific Gas & Electric Co. laid Friday on its somewhat euphemistically named “Californians to Protect Our Right to Vote.”
As I reported in July when PG&E made its first such contribution, the “Taxpayers Right to Vote Act” that this committee is pushing would require local governments to obtain the approval of two-thirds of their voters before providing electricity to new customers or expanding such service to new territories if any public funds or bonds are involved, or before providing electricity through a community choice program if any public funds or bonds are involved.
Critics say PG&E is playing on populist themes in order to block local governments from abandoning the utility giant in favor of power contracts with smaller, greener energy producers – a movement that’s been gaining steam in recent years.
The proponents have until Dec. 21 to gather the 694,354 signatures needed to place this on the ballot next year. I’m pretty sure I overheard a petition gatherer soliciting signatures for this outside the Safeway in Guerneville last week (so I was paying at least a little attention during my time off). If you encounter one, listen carefully to see if it’s being pitched as a bulwark against tax hikes, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.