April 22, 2010
How much does it cost to buy an election in California? Northern California utility Pacific Gas & Electric aims to test that question with Proposition 16, the most odious piece of special-interest electioneering to come around in, oh, a year or so. PG&E is expected to pour $35 million into its campaign for the measure, which features commercials and glossy mailers so misleading that they could have been written by the Iranian information ministry....
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 18, 2010 |
The most important thing to know about Proposition 16 on California's June ballot is that it was written and bankrolled by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for the benefit of PG&E. There'd be nothing wrong with that, necessarily, if its customers also benefited. But Prop. 16 seeks to lock them into the private utility's grasp without any realistic opportunity of ever escaping to an electricity provider with cheaper rates. And it would apply to the customers of any private -- or "investor-owned" -- utility, such as Southern California Edison or San Diego Gas & Electric.
HOME & GARDEN
February 27, 2010 |
Some power companies are pulling the plug on old-fashioned mechanical electric meters, and to the likely disappointment of growl-happy dogs, fewer meter-readers will be invading yards across Southern California. Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric and San Diego Gas and Electric are upgrading customers to digital "smart meters" that can transmit real-time data about electricity use back to the utility company wirelessly. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is updating meters too, but primarily for larger businesses.
February 10, 2010 |
Speculation has been raging over whether the U.S. Supreme Court's recent junking of federal campaign spending limits on corporations will be very bad for democracy, or not so bad. As with many important trends in American society, California was there first, and we have the answer. Thanks to a nakedly cynical $6.5-million ballot campaign launched by our biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, we can say this: It's going to be worse than you can possibly imagine. When I first wrote in December about the ballot initiative PG&E concocted to undercut competition from municipal power agencies, the monster hadn't yet been shocked into life.
December 28, 2009 |
On the face of it, nobody should find anything objectionable to the Taxpayers Right to Vote Act, a proposed initiative now awaiting certification to go on the state ballot. The measure would require a two-thirds vote by residents of a municipality to approve certain public expenditures or borrowings. It's cast as the most virtuous of good-government propositions. Or as Greg Larsen, head of the initiative's campaign committee, puts it, "Why shouldn't the people who are going to pay the bill have the right to vote on that?"
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 7, 2009 |
Environmentalists tend to avoid the topic of population control. Too touchy. But the politically incorrect issue is becoming unavoidable as the global population lurches toward a predicted 9 billion people by mid-century. Will there be enough food? Enough water? Will planet-heating carbon dioxide gas become ever more uncontrollable? Now comes a study by statisticians at Oregon State University focusing on the elephant in the room.
July 6, 2009 |
Lis Sines of Hermosa Beach loves watching her electric meter run backward. When that happens, she knows that the 20 solar panels on her roof are producing more power than she needs to run her 3,800-square-foot home. The excess electricity flows to the electric company's grid, and she gets its full retail value credited to her utility bill. Sines' electric bill has plunged since she and her husband, William, installed a photovoltaic system on their roof three months ago.
March 13, 2009 |
A judge dismissed a state lawsuit alleging that PG&E Corp. drained as much as $4 billion from its Pacific Gas & Electric unit before putting it in bankruptcy, the company said Thursday. The lawsuit, filed by former California Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer in 2002, was dismissed in state court in San Francisco after an independent expert found PG&E had done nothing wrong, the utility said in a regulatory filing.
February 25, 2009 |
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said Tuesday that it would spend $1.5 billion of ratepayers' money to add 500 megawatts of photovoltaic power in California, one of the largest such deals in the country. Plans call for the San Francisco utility to invest at least half of that in solar panels placed on commercial rooftops and on ground-mounted modules that PG&E would own and operate. The other half is earmarked for long-term contracts with private-sector solar companies.
August 8, 2007 |
PG&E Corp., owner of California's largest utility, said second-quarter profit rose 16% on higher electricity rates. Net income climbed to $269 million, or 74 cents a share, from $232 million, or 65 cents, a year earlier, the San Francisco-based company said. Sales rose to $3.19 billion from $3.02 billion. PG&E's utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, has been successful in gaining regulatory approval for general rate increases and investments in power plants and upgraded meters.