Over the Hill

Vote ‘No’ on Prop. 16, because it’s deceptive

If I still lived in Fairport, N.Y., my electricity bill would be half what it is in Paso Robles. But I haven’t lived in Fairport since I graduated from high school in 1947.

Fairport is an incorporated village 12 miles east of Rochester. Its population is a little more than 6,000, but it owns its own electric utility.

The village website says Fairport Electric is “one of the 47 municipally owned power companies in New York.” It also says its rate is about one-third of “nearby” utilities’ rates. A major nearby utility is Rochester Gas and Electric, an investor-owned utility.

Here in Paso Robles, my latest PG&E electricity bill was $41.77. That’s based on 351 kilowatt hours from April 13 to May 11.

But if we lived in Fairport it would be $19.18. I calculated that from the rates on the Fairport website, and from what a friendly Fairport resident told me. A reader in Cayucos sent me her phone number.

The Fairport woman told me that her latest electricity bill, for 405 kilowatt hours, totaled $21.07. That’s a very good deal, but we Californians will never see one like it if we approve Proposition 16 on our June 8 ballot.

And I’m guessing that’s the reason PG&E is spending so much money to get Prop. 16 passed. PG&E is an investor-owned utility. I read it spent $3.5 million to gather the necessary signatures to put Prop. 16 on the ballot. I’ve also read PG&E is spending about $35 million total on Prop. 16. We’ve all seen the frequent TV ads.

Prop. 16 would make local governments hold elections before starting their own electric utilities or expanding existing ones. They’d have to get a two-thirds “Yes” vote to proceed.

Prop. 16 is advertised as the taxpayers’ right-to-vote act. But, of course, it doesn’t give us the right to vote on PG&E rate increases.

It looks more like a PG&E ploy to abort any competition from less-costly, local-government utilities like Fairport Electric. Any agency that tried to start, or expand, a publically owned electric service could be stopped by just one-third of the vote.

I’ll vote “No” on Prop. 16. It’s raw money power perverting California’s initiative process.

Paid solicitors, not volunteers, often solicit petition signatures. The paid-solicitors’ petitions should be so labeled in large print and should be on distinctively colored paper. Also, all donations to initiative campaigns should be publicly reported by donor name and amount.

We’ll undoubtedly need a people’s initiative campaign or a state constitutional convention to force the needed reforms.

Contact Phil Dirkx at phild2008@sbcglobal.net or 238-2372.