San Francisco City Attorney Slams PG&E

Argues utility monopoly using your money to try to stifle competition

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Richard Masoner
    Dennis Herrera, right, wants the CPUC to stop PG&E from lobbying customers on said customers' own dimes.

    San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is taking up the pitchfork and torch and joining the city's progressive mob in challenging the power of Pacific Gas & Electric.

    Herrera has formally asked the California Public Utilities Commission to stop PG&E's efforts to lobby consumers in the hopes of stalling public power projects under the state's seven year-old community choice aggregation (CCA) program.

    San Francisco, along with other communities around the state, has been trying to open the door even the tiniest bit to public power and competitive utility pricing by starting a CCA program that would purchase energy from renewable sources and deliver it over PG&E's grid.

    But ever the political connected and capital-rich monopolist, PG&E has spent millions fighting CCA efforts in every California community where it has come up, and the San Francsico-based company would certainly not like to lose the fight in its hometown.

    Hence, PG&E has been canvassing San Francisco ratepayers with leaflets asking them to oppose any CCA efforts, and presumably paying for the campaign with money it earns from those very customers -- who might save money, and certainly would probably rather buy energy from renewable sources.

    So Herrera is asking the CPUC to wade into the fight, arguing "The California Public Utilities Commission exists to police giant utilities, to assure that their monopoly advantages aren't abused to exploit consumers or frustrate the policy objectives of our state lawmakers."

    It's certainly an appealing stand to take amongst the voters that Herrera has long been rumored to intend courting as a possible mayoral candidate, but PG&E has pretty much won every fight this town has every picked in the past, and it's unclear what, if anything, the CPUC might do in the matter.

    Photo by Richard Masoner.

    Jackson West wonders how a power company can make him feel so powerless.