Proposition 16: Bad for Californians

power linesCalifornia allows cities and counties to purchase electricity or develop it locally through an energy provider of their choice. Currently, 68% of California’s electricity is generated by investor-owned utilities. Proposition 16, on the June 8 primary ballot, would alter local government’s ability to develop electricity service and is bad for California’s residents and businesses.

Pacific Gas & Electric Company, the largest for profit utility in California, has sponsored the initiative and underwritten the proposition’s $35 million campaign budget. The irony is that Proposition 16 only requires 50% plus one vote to amend our state constitution to force local voters to a two-thirds vote before a locality/municipality could issue bonds to develop electricity service.

While an investor-owned utility company is entitled to be in business and make a profit, it is also local government’s responsibility to secure reliable cost-effective sources of energy for residents and businesses.

Remember when California had a shortage of electricity in 2000-2001?

If you have forgotten this lesson, you should recall that our state suffered large-scale blackouts. Suppliers, like Pacific Gas & Electric Company, were forced to buy market manipulated inflated priced electricity from companies like Enron, and ratepayers and California businesses dependent on energy consumption were squeezed by high energy costs.

Wall Street Journal data reports PG&E’s CEO was paid $10.6 million compensation in 2009. Municipal utilities do not pay CEOs millions in corporate bonuses and are not beholden to their stockholders. Our state constitution should not be amended to protect private utilities or thwart our energy choices.

If California were a nation, its economy would rank eighth in the world. Our local businesses need predictable energy costs to remain competitive. This is why California’s energy policies should provide for long term market stability and fixed energy costs.

California needs to lead the world in renewable energy. Our cities and counties must develop more predictable energy sources or determine whether to partner with private utility companies who have reliable energy sources.

tracy-emblemOur local governments must be able to invest in local renewable energy from solar, wind, biomass and other sources which would decrease our reliance on imported energy, reduce our carbon footprint and help maintain a stable economy. Vote “no” on Proposition 16 – a constitutional amendment which would hurt Californians.

Tracy Emblem

Tracy Emblem is an attorney and a Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress, California ‘s 50th District.


  1. Marshall says

    Do I understand that you want to develope local power for local folks? Do you want to setup offshore wind power units? Do you want to setup offshore gas or oil drilling platforms? The green stuff is not going to showup for years and years, so you are going to need to use the bad stuff for many years while you work on the other. I have only been in your state a few times, but I could understand everyone, but your post I could not understand. What is it you want?

  2. says

    If you view Prop 16 simply as a self-serving measure by evil corporation PGE, then NO on 16 is the logical vote.

    However, for at least one of my N. Calif. friends, Prop 16 is primarily a counterattack against evil local politicians – which in some places are ready, using the cover of local public interest, in fact to hijack electric revenues for their own purposes. Here in Long Beach, that is exactly what happened a few years ago with the muni-owned gas utility.

    As in the Kelo v New London case, beware of assuming that local governments (with their entrenched politicians and city hall machines) are inherently good and inherently on the side of the ordinary people – even if you are convinced that PGE is inherently evil.


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