|Electric Utilities. Assessments. Bonds.|
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For years, Californians have been forced to buy electricity from giant utility monopolies that charge some of the highest electric rates in the nation. That was supposed to change when federal policy opened the way for all states to break up the utility monopolies that control electricity and allow consumers to choose competing suppliers. But California's biggest utility companies--SoCal Edison, PG&E and San Diego Gas & Electric--afraid of losing their protected markets and guaranteed profits, spent millions on lobbyists and campaign contributions to cut a special deal with the politicians in Sacramento.
What they got stands out as one of the worst cases of legislative pandering in California history. Instead of opening California to competition, consumer choice, and lower rates, the State Legislature gave the giant utilities special advantages that wipe out any real competition and block residential consumers and small businesses from genuine rate reductions.
As part of the deal, the utilities were allowed to freeze the price of electricity for residential and small business users at recent high levels. The giant utilities also got their money-losing investments in nuclear power paid off as part of a disguised $28 billion tax on consumers' electricity bills--an outrageous act of corporate welfare costing average ratepayers close to $1000 (much more if you have air conditioning). Thanks to the giant utilities, consumers are paying a high price for "deregulation" but get none of the benefits.
Adding insult to injury, the Legislature sugarcoated the $28 billion utility bailout tax with a phony 10% reduction. The utility companies were allowed to borrow billions to finance the rate cut. But consumers will have to pay the borrowed money back, with interest, every month for ten years! It's right on your bill. Your monthly financing charge (called "TTA" on your bill) is greater than the rate cut. It's not a genuine rate reduction. It's a rip-off. Californians deserve better.
That's why taxpayers, consumer advocates, small businesses and environmentalists, along with nearly 500,000 California voters, have placed Proposition 9 on the ballot.
Prop. 9 will:
- Block the $28 billion utility bailout tax on consumers and small businesses
- Provide an immediate rate cut of 20%
- Open California to real competition and consumer choice
- Allow a competitive market to set rates (which a California Energy Commission study estimates will drop as much as 32%!)
- Protect individual privacy by banning the sale of customer information without permission
- Make sure consumers have the information they need to choose the best electric supplier while maintaining a safe and reliable electric system.
Proposition 9 is a carefully and responsibly crafted initiative, written by utility experts and consumer advocates. It has already passed a court challenge by the giant utilities and their allies. They're spending millions to confuse and frighten voters. Don't be fooled. Get the facts. Read your electricity bill. Talk to your friends. Decide for yourself. Prop 9 deserves your support. Vote YES on Prop 9.
Co-Chair, Californians against Utility Taxes (CUT)
Executive Director, The Utility Reform Network (TURN)
HARRY M. SNYDER
Senior Advocate, Consumers Union, Publisher of Consumer Reports