Prop. 16 foes sling a stone against PG&E Goliath

With PG&E having now invested more than $34.6 million so far in Proposition 16, its measure to make it harder for municipal governments to choose to get their power from anywhere else, the measure’s opponents are clearly fiscally outmatched – but they’re fighting on nonetheless.

They directed me today to www.noprop16films.org, a site at which the Local Clean Energy Alliance is posting films put together on the fly and on a shoestring by grassroots activists opposing the measure. Here’s one of those films:

But the trick will be getting California voters to see these films; with no notable money in the bank, it’s not as if Prop. 16’s opponents will be able to advertise much on television, radio or in direct mail, while PG&E is surely gearing up for a multimedia ad blitz.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Uninvited Columnist

    Only a voter with a heart of stone could fail to laugh out loud at this heart-grabbing video. (apologies to O.Wilde)

  • John W

    The PG&E and Mercury Insurance ballot initiatives show what a farce the initiative system is in California. Only special interests with deep pockets, be they companies or powerful public employee unions, can get something on the ballot and wage a successful campaign to pass it. Once passed, it is virtually impossible to repeal bad decisions, even if there is popular support for doing so. There are no deep-pocketed interest groups for “good government” but plenty of deep pocketed groups to stand in the way. A good example was the governor’s package of reform initiatives that got shot down during his first term.

  • Tom

    geez, I don’t know….maybe it’s a good idea that voters get to decide before bureacrats spend millions of YOUR money in Quixotic queasts…isn’t that all this proposition does? I think PG&E should be commended for protecting your rights (yea, well they benefit also, but don’t we call that “win-win”?)

  • Tom

    there really should be truth in advertising. Putting aside the fact that there are government monopolies that restrict customer choice as much as private monopolies (actually more so), the ad implies that “government owned” equals clean. Nothing could be further from the truth. PG&E for example gets very LITTLE electricity from coal, while Los Angeles Dept. or Water and Power get almost 25%.

  • VOTE NO ON PROP 16 on June 8th

    Tom, your point is?

    Obviously, Tom must be mistaken. Government monopolies…Now that is a first.

    Tom is totally missing the point. It’s about a private profit-making company telling voters how to vote that only benefits that company and THAT COMPANY ONLY!!!! Uh, last time I looked that’s called a MONOPOLY.

    There were no voters that created PG&E, elected its board of directors, hired its CEO. In fact, no voter in the state of California ever determines how and where its profits are spent or invested.

    Under state law that our representatives approved at our request, we have every right to go into the electricity business. Don’t let people like Tom over here try to convince you that governments are running amok on this. They wouldn’t do it unless we all asked them to.

    And, how do we ask them to?
    – We want lower rates.
    – We want renewable energy.
    – We want competition.

    So, I don’t get your point. If the people don’t take to the streets and to the people (I guess that means ourselves, the ratepayers) then we should all just go back to sleep and succumb to the numbness that PG&E tells us to obey.

    I think not.

    VOTE *NO* ON PROP 16 on June 8th
    VOTE *NO* ON PROP 16 on June 8th
    VOTE *NO* ON PROP 16 on June 8th
    VOTE *NO* ON PROP 16 on June 8th

  • http://www.noprop16films.org

    Oh, and Tom is wrong about PG&E’s portfolio of fossil fuel.

    Here is a very mild example.

    PG&E Scores More Fossil Fuels
    The utility’s $2.3 billion project to import liquid natural gas from overseas would increase greenhouse gas emissions and destroy habitat.
    By Robert Gammon

    “Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s ongoing effort to increase its fossil fuels portfolio ramped up last week when the utility won federal approval for a $2.3 billion project that would import liquid natural gas from overseas. The utility says it needs access to the foreign-produced fossil fuel to ensure stable prices, but the controversial project is further eroding PG&E’s well-crafted image as a green-conscious company.”


  • The question is, are Props 16 and 17 corporate ‘ballot’ measures? Or corporate ‘bail-out’ measures? 😉

  • Sara and Meg WHO ??!!

    When in doubt – follow the money –


    But SF Gate isn’t the only media source that is coming out strongly OPPOSED to this proposition –


    But – it’s not just “big press” media that’s coming out in opposition to this mess –






  • Rob Simpson

    When I see that the Fossil fuel industry (PG&E) is virtually the sole sponsor of Prop 16 and the list of opponents reads like a Who’s Who of informed defenders of free market democracy and the environment


    and I know that PG&E has stifled the potential competition of clean energy at every opportunity; it is clear for me that in hopes of preventing monopolistic rate increases, Further degradation of our environment and with the promise of an equitable redistribution of wealth in an economic recovery through Green Jobs and locally harvested electricity. I will join in voting NO ON PROPOSITION 16 for the good of our state and people.

  • Let’s clarify what Prop 16 really does. If public money is going to be used to start up or expand electrical services into new territory then Prop 16 says it must be put before the voters. The voting process allows for a full discussion of what can be costly decisions and that is a good thing for the people of California.

  • Karey

    Prop 16 is just horrible. I want the option of purchasing more electricity which comes from renewable sources….that is, MORE than PG&E is providing now (PG&E is not meeting the state mandate of 20% renewables by this year). Is that going to be possible if Prop 16 passes? Almost certainly not. Prop 16 is an astonishing POWER GRAB by PG&E!

    PLEASE, Californians….VOTE NO on Prop 16 on June 8th!!!

  • Kris, it already has to be put before the voters. It’s not going to spontaneously appear. No government could pull it off in secret, nor could they get it started if it was riskier or more expensive than PG&E. What it does do is make it harder to choose something other than PG&E. Instead of a simple majority, a 2/3 majority would be necessary.

    This would put a lock on energy for PG&E, an unfair advantage would be given to them that no other business we deal with has. Permission to “expand” means what, exactly? Permission to “start up” what, exactly? Why 2/3 and not 51%? 2/3 is MUCH harder to get than 51%. We would be blocked by PG&E’s law.

    New energy sources must be found and brought on line, there is no doubt about that, and PG&E cannot be allowed to place itself between those new energy sources and us.

  • Mauricio

    This proposition would effectively kill any chance of your city getting you cheaper and/or cleaner energy.

    Picture this: In 5 years solar panel efficiency increases to 40% and a solar array down the street can get you cheaper power than PG&E’s gas plant thousand miles away. YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO GET THE CHEAPER RATE!

    PG&E is making a mockery of our initiative process.

    A corporation spending 45 million of your money and mine, while raising rates, to protect their monopoly and ensure they’re able to continue raising rates, on captive consumers that have no other choice.

    Please, please vote NO on 16