by Eric Brooks
In early October, ethics reporting revealed that PG&E corporation is the source of all but 100 dollars of the entire five and a half million dollars spent so far to attack Prop H – the San Francisco Clean Energy Act. Prop H is a vital ballot measure that will switch us to 100 percent clean electricity in just three decades, and at the same or lower rates than PG&E.
Prop H also mandates green jobs programs and training to employ the thousands of local San Francisco residents who will build the projects to bring us this clean energy future. This mandate is one of the reasons that Van Jones, Green for All and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights all support Prop H.
Answers to PG&E’s multi-million dollar lies
PG&E has wasted millions in our ratepayer dollars to flood homes and televisions daily with mailers and ads, all making blatantly false claims about Prop H.
PG&E’s top myth about Prop H is that it allows Supervisors to unilaterally spend tax dollars for new utilities and give ratepayers big bill increases.
The true story is that Prop H mandates only one thing: a green jobs program for 100 percent clean electricity. And it is flatly impossible for Prop H to raise taxes or rates by even a penny because Prop H only allows self-funding revenue bonds to pay for its clean energy projects.
Revenue bonds don’t raise costs because they are only allowed to be paid back by profits and savings from the solar, wind power and conservation measures that will be built. PG&E conveniently leaves this zero cost of the renewable bonds out of the picture, so it can trick voters into thinking that Prop H will cost them and the City money. It won’t.
So Prop H will give us citywide clean energy at the same or lower cost than current rates, with full voter accountability, and PG&E knows it.
PG&E’s unbreakable addiction to expensive polluting fossil fuels
Why is PG&E lying? It’s simple. PG&E’s entire business model is based on selling us dirty electricity generated through expensive natural gas and nuclear power plants. We are still paying for PG&E’s incredibly costly Diablo Canyon nuclear boondoggle on our utility bills, and PG&E has just gotten approval for an expensive and hazardous 30-year extension on the life of that aging nuclear plant.
And on Oct. 1 PG&E got the state’s permission to yet again raise our utility bills, this time by a whopping 7 percent, because the price of natural gas has skyrocketed, just like the price of oil and gasoline. And PG&E is going for yet another 2 percent rate increase in January!
PG&E’s abject failure to bring us renewable energy
According to PG&E’s latest power mix report to customers, over two thirds of its electricity is generated from those polluting, expensive sources. Yet instead of switching to more solar and wind power to stabilize costs and rescue the environment, PG&E is stubbornly building four new polluting natural gas power plants and is even preparing to waste nearly a billion more ratepayer dollars on a 230-mile pipeline from Oregon to Northern California to pump in massive amounts of even higher cost and more polluting liquid natural gas for its power plants.
All of this makes clear that PG&E has no intention of switching to clean energy. PG&E is spending millions to lie to voters about Prop H, because if Prop H passes and San Francisco switches to 100 percent local renewable power, PG&E’s outdated dependence on imported fossil fuels will become an economic quagmire and PG&E will lose billions in dirty fossil fuel profits.
You’d think that PG&E would wise up and go renewable, but this is sadly not the case. PG&E’s power mix report showed that in 2007 it had a pitiful 10 percent renewable electricity. Worse yet, the California Utilities Commission just revealed that PG&E will also fail to meet even the minimal state mandate of 20 percent renewable energy by 2010.
PG&E is addicted to expensive, planet destroying fuels. And, like any other bad addict, PG&E wants to keep all of its customers – and our wallets – addicted too.
Prop H, a community challenge to PG&E’s failures and rip-offs
Prop H allows San Francisco to build its own solar, wind power and conservation projects to directly compete with PG&E’s dirty energy foolishness. It will get us off of the natural gas rollercoaster and switch us onto stable priced clean, renewable electricity.
Vote YES on Prop H this Nov. 4 to put PG&E in its place, and establish that the citizens of San Francisco are now in charge of our own energy, our environmental future and our own wallets.
Eric Brooks is co-chair of the San Francisco Green Party Sustainability Working Group. For more information about Prop H, go to http://sfcleanenergy.org. And treat yourself to a great video, “Prop H for Clean Energy, Obama for President,” at www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiB3zjLc7Ds.