From SFGATE/ San Francisco Chronicle
California has a long, expensive history of fighting over public power - electric service provided by government.
Proposition 16 on the June ballot would radically alter the rules of engagement.
The ballot measure, funded to the tune of $35 million almost entirely by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., would force local governments to win the approval of two-thirds of their voters before jumping into the electricity business.
Time and again, cities have tried to break free from PG&E to start their own municipal utilities or join others. Sometimes these fights involve a vote by residents, sometimes they don't. PG&E, based in San Francisco, usually prevails.
But the utility, California's largest, doesn't always win. Marin County started its own public power agency last week, under a new system called community choice aggregation that doesn't require a public vote. San Francisco officials want to follow suit. So do communities elsewhere in the Bay Area and the Central Valley.
If Prop. 16 passes, most of those local efforts would fail, public power advocates say. While they might be able to win a simple majority in an election, advocates say, the two-thirds requirement could prove insurmountable. They consider the ballot measure nothing less than PG&E's attempt to crush their movement.
"This is a for-profit corporation trying to kill off its not-for-profit rivals," said San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi. "Prop. 16 is a colossal fraud perpetrated on the people of California."
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Vote NO on Prop 16!