Tag Archives: PG&E

Keystone XL Builder Has Explosive Problems

TransCanada, the company that would build and own the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada’s tar sand fields to the U.S. Gulf Coast, has dialed up its lobbying in Congress after a U.S. State Department report that favored the pipeline. The giant oil pipeline is perfectly clean and safe, say the lobbyists. TransCanada will be using the best, newest technology, monitoring and materials. The citizens of Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and points south need not worry their little heads.

Then, BOOM! A TransCanada natural gas pipeline in Manitoba, Canada blew up in a spectacular fireball on January 25, reaching hundreds of feet into the air. It burned for 12 hours and only its rural location prevented a human catastrophe. (A nearly identical gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California killed eight people and burned a neighborhood in 2010). A TransCanada pipeline in Ontario exploded in a nearly identical manner in 2011. Another TransCanada pipe in Ontario blew up in 2009 as well.

TransCanada ExplosionA week after the Manitoba blast, TransCanada still didn’t know what caused it, or wouldn’t say.

Oil pipelines may fail without fireballs, but are no less dangerous to neighbors and the environment. No matter what a pipeline carries, maintenance and vigilance matter. But keeping a pipeline from exploding-or gushing a lake of flammable, toxic crude oil into local water supplies-isn’t a profit center. (What would pour out of Keystone XL is actually a slurry of corrosive tar and chemical-laced, highly flammable thinners.) To a corporation, safety spending is a dead loss. Only the lip service is free.

Ronald Reagan famously said of negotiating with the Soviet Union, “Trust, but verify.” The same goes for the promises of TransCanada, yet U.S. pipeline regulators are too strapped for staff and money to verify even existing pipeline safety, according to a New York Times story.

Another TransCanada pipeline explosion in 2009, in Ontario’s northern wilderness, was blamed on “95% corrosion” of the pipe. A Canadian government report said TransCanada’s inspection tools “failed to accurately assess” the level of corrosion.

The real question about the Keystone XL pipeline is why the United States should bear all of these risks, for no reward. A Consumer Watchdog study last year found that the pipeline, by sending Canadian oil overseas from the Gulf Coast, would actually raise gasoline prices in the U.S. The number of permanent jobs created would be paltry. Domestic oil production is rising and U.S. consumption is falling, so there is no economic rationale for more tar sands oil.

The XL pipeline, with all its attendant risks of spills, pollution–even deliberate vandalism or terrorism–is being built through America but not for America.

Canadians who understand the danger are turning down proposals for oil pipelines to their own Pacific coast.

Oh, and the U.S.State Department report that TransCanada’s lobbyists are waving so proudly? It was drafted by a subcontractor with financial ties to TransCanada. Chalk up one more reason why the U.S. should decline to be TransCanada’s beast of burden.

Posted by Judy Dugan, Research Director Emeritus of Consumer Watchdog.

CA State Senator Majority Leader Dean Florez, (D) Questions PG&E “Transparency” In Wake Of Tragedy

It seems that PG&E is in the news all to often the past year. From tragedy to problems for customers with new SMARTMETERS, I have not posted of any other specific industry/service provider anywhere close to the PG&E story, as it continues to unfold. The latest…

Senator blocks utility giant’s attempts to dodge questions on San Bruno blast

SACRAMENTO – Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez (D-Shafter) today charged that PG&E has failed in its pledge to be transparent and open in the wake of the San Bruno tragedy, avoiding questions posed by legislators and attempting to bog the Senate down with irrelevant documentation.  He reiterated a list of questions he would like answered.

Last month, Florez asked the utility to stop hiding behind claims that its hands were tied on releasing information due to the ongoing federal investigation.  Lawyers for the National Transportation and Safety Board told Florez that, contrary to PG&E chairman Peter Darbee’s claims, they had placed no restrictions on PG&E releasing the documents requested by the Legislature.

Shortly thereafter, a top PG&E executive on Smart Meters was caught lying about his identity to infiltrate a website devoted to sharing concerns about the digital meters.

Disturbed by the pattern of behavior, Florez wrote again on November 19th, 2010, to Darbee, restating the questions he would like answered, including the risk assessment for gas transmission lines statewide and when they were last inspected, a breakdown of how PG&E says it spent $100 million on improvements and whether or not the utility completed improvements for which it requested and received rate hikes.

Following his initial request, PG&E provided Florez’s office with boxes holding thousands of pages of documents, none of which addressed the questions asked, giving the impression the utility giant was attempting to bog the office down with paperwork rather than live up to its promise of transparency and openness in the wake of high-profile gaffes.

I will keep posting the latest developments on this issue as I learn of them.

Cross Posted at Free Flight New Media.TypePad.Com. There you will find many issues related to National, rather than the great job Calitics does on California politics. Drop by and let us know what you think.

Playing Russian Roulette With Our Neighborhoods

Remember this phrase – Condition-Based Maintenance.  CBM.   Crash and Burn Maintenance.  CBM.  

The San Bruno explosion should be a wake up call.  As the inevitable regulatory reviews, recriminations and revisions of history play out in the wake of San Bruno, it is important to keep CBM in mind because it is one of the most nefarious and dangerous lingering effects of the deregulation mania that swept over California and the nation in the last 15 years.  It must be eliminated from utility practice.  Let me explain.

Utility systems provide essential services whose loss even for a moment can be devastating in a very short time. – in the  case of manufacturing processes a matter of milliseconds.  For this reason operation and maintenance of these systems should be rigorously scrutinized and high standards enforced.  This is especially true of gas pipeline systems, because the substance they carry, methane gas under relatively high pressures, can be highly explosive and dangerous.

For decades standard practice in the utility industry was to perform Preventive Maintenance (PM) at relatively short intervals, with regular inspections between preventive maintenance applications.  This provided a high degree of assurance that equipment or material failures would not occur.

Deregulation placed a premium on cost cutting, job cutting and corner cutting, in the name of maximizing profits.  Preventive maintenance was one of the casualties.  It was replaced by CBM, Condition-Based Maintenance.   CBM is a concept that substitutes inspection intervals for maintenance intervals, with actual maintenance occurring only as needed based on the observed condition of the equipment or system.  If system or equipment is close to failure, maintenance or replacement is supposed to be performed “just in time.”  However, as San Bruno demonstrated, the inspections can miss something and place our communities literally at risk of blowing up.  There is no place for CBM in the utility infrastructure for delivering essential services and explosive substances.

The risk of catastrophe is enhanced in California because even though improved inspections can identify potentially hazardous conditions that warrant repair or replacement, the actual maintenance and capital spending by the utilities is set at a level that deliberately cuts safety margins to the edge of failure.  For example, gas utilities in California are currently operating pipes and equipment far beyond their designed life, with schedules for replacement as much as seven years into the future.

The PG&E San Bruno explosion has sparked a renewed sense of urgency in addressing infrastructure safety issues.  There are federal initiatives to improve pipeline safety that pre-dated San Bruno; there are state and federal investigations and there is sure to be a flurry of legislative proposals in the wake of the disaster that focus on improved inspections.  But until the philosophy of utility deregulation and the practice of CBM – push equipment and systems to the brink of failure in the name of cost-cutting – are eliminated, we have to ask: Whose neighborhood will blow up next?  Spin the chamber and pull the trigger.

Carl Wood is the Democratic candidate for the 65th State Assembly district (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties). Wood is a member of the Utility Workers Union of America and former Public Utilities Commissioner.  He has worked as a power plant maintenance electrician.

Breaking: CA Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez To PG&E: I Want Names Of San Bruno Pipeline Workers

It is good to see that someone in Sacramento is taking the investigation into the horrible PG&E pipeline explosion and loss of life and property seriously. Does not appear that anyone will get away with sweeping the “facts” that lead to the incident (and I really am at a loss of words to adequately describe the explosion and aftermath) get swept “under the rug.” That “someone” in this case is California State Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez.

In an effort to determine the causes of the San Bruno gas line explosion and prevent future such trajedies, Senator Florez is asking Pacific Gas & Electric and the California Public Utilities Commission to turn over hundreds of pages of internal documents to the state Senate.

Arguing that PG&E failed to fix what it knew to be a potentially dangerous problem, the Senate Majority leader is also asking the utility to provide the names of PG&E personnel who worked in the vicinity of the San Bruno pipeline in the days prior to the blast.

In separate letters today to PG&E and the CPUC, Sen. Florez, D-Shafter, cites a pattern of concealment on the part of the utility and a pattern of lax oversight by the public watchdog.

“More than two weeks after the tragedy, we are left with an inescapable question: Did PG&E’s neglect and deferred maintenance, a pattern of nonfeasance, cause the tragedy?” Florez said.

Florez is seeking a wide range of documents that he believes will help to uncover a practice of launching new technologies and yet at the same time, the utility giant has given short shrift to upgrading decaying gas lines that run up and down the state, beneath homes and businesses.

“I believe if these documents are released, they will reveal that PG&E was literally asleep at the switch when it came to identifying and fixing dangerous gas lines such as Line 132 beneath San Bruno.”

“I think we need to know if PG&E received millions of dollars in rate hikes to improve decrepit gas lines but yet, for inexplicable reasons, failed to do the work.”

“Without the documents that I am requesting, I would argue that this is what happened with Line 132,” Florez said. “PG&E had money allocated to do the upgrade. But the repairs were never done. How come? Where did those millions of dollars go?”

In the wake of the San Bruno tragedy, Florez said, PG&E has done its best to confuse the public, issuing a series of inconsistent statements.

In early news accounts, PG&E officials conceded that the utility had received millions of dollars in capital expenditures to repair Line 132 because of its “likelihood of failure” and “unacceptably high” risk.

Then, in later press accounts, PG&E insisted that Line 132 was not a high risk and did not even rank on the most recent list of the Top 100 “high-risk” lines.

Why was Line 132 removed from the most recent “high risk” list? Did PG&E make repairs to Line 132 that lessened the risk? Or was the accounting of these high-risk lines so arbitrary that decaying lines were moved on and off the list–without rhyme or reason?

Then there is PG&E’s insistence that it knew nothing about gas odors emanating from the San Bruno pipeline in the days prior to the explosion. The utility also denies that its records show that PG&E crews were dispatched to the neighborhood in the days prior to the blast.

Florez is seeking the names of PG&E personnel who recently worked in the area.

“Our office wants to question those PG&E workers. Do we believe PG&E higher ups? Or do we believe resident after resident quoted in prominent newspapers about gas odors and PG&E trucks sent to the San Bruno neighborhood in the days prior?

“Frankly, after butting heads with PG&E over the past year on rate hikes and SmartMeters, I don’t trust their corporate culture.”

Florez says his office has much experience digging into PG&E and would act as a state clearinghouse for the information.

“PG&E is a morass to dig through, but we know the questions to ask and the documents to seek. My plan is to share those documents with my fellow legislators who will be holding hearings on the matter. The public deserves to know the truth.”

Stay Tuned! I will post updates on FreeFlightNewMedia.TypePad.Com and a summary as warranted here on Calitics.com.

PG&E diverts ratepayer maintenance funds to profits

The “infamous case” cited by Robert Cruickshank is actually much worse than reported in Thursday’s Chronicle.  Under Pete Wilson’s PUC, PG&E under-spent (pocketed) multimillion dollar maintenance allowances included in rates, including its tree-trimming budget, not once but in three successive triennial rate case cycles.  The unspent ratepayer funds went right to the corporation’s bottom line.

When I was appointed to the PUC by Governor Gray Davis in 1999, the commission was about to vote on a new PG&E rate case.  The administrative law judge who heard the case, disgusted by the company’s performance, drafted a decision reducing the rate request by hundreds of millions of dollars.  The expectation of workers at the utility was that PG&E would respond with hundreds of layoffs rather than accept a reduction in profits.  

I offered an alternate decision that required the company to actually spend the money on tree-trimming (necessary to minimize service interruptions during storms and prevent wildfires), or return it to ratepayers.  My proposal passed 3-2, and over the next 3 years PG&E finally dealt with a decade’s accumulation of untrimmed trees.

The implementation of other reforms included in that decision, such as requiring the utility to track the condition of its electrical distribution system, meet its service appointment deadlines or pay penalties directly to the affected customers, and inspect homes for carbon monoxide was derailed by PG&E’s self-serving bankruptcy filing at the height of the 2000-2001 Energy Crisis.  After Gov. Davis caved in to corporate pressure and appointed anti-consumer commissioners (such as Susan Kennedy, currently Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Chief of Staff), any chance of serious regulatory oversight by the PUC disappeared.

This is another example of what is at stake in this year’s elections.  The new governor will be able immediately to appoint a majority to the PUC.  Whether this powerful commission will answer to consumers or to the industry it is supposed to regulate will turn on the outcome of the vote on November 2.

Utility Workers Union leader Carl Wood is the Democratic candidate in the 65th Assembly District (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties).

A former PUC Commissioner’s take on smart meters

As a former California Public Utilities Commissioner (1999-2004), I would like to offer a few thoughts about smart meters.

“Smart” meters are devices that can remotely report electricity and gas usage readings as often as hourly to utilities without the need for human meter readers.  The justifications offered by proponents are twofold.  First, it is claimed that utilities can control electricity usage by sharply raising rates during hours of high system demand, thus discouraging consumption and reducing the need for additional generation capacity.  Second, customers can supposedly benefit by moving their usage to hours when demand and prices are low.

While most residential customers are skeptical, this analysis has tremendous appeal to energy producers and market-oriented economists and regulators, the same folks who brought us the electrical deregulation catastrophe in 2000-2001.  What is almost never part of the public discussion is the real motivation of smart meter proponents.

Utilities make their money in two ways: they are reimbursed through rates for their reasonably-incurred costs of providing service, such as paying their workers; and they are fully repaid plus  a “reasonable” rate of return for long-term capital investments in their systems (“rate base”).  Only the second adds to corporate profit, the bottom line.  Replacing functioning existing meters, which have already been partially or fully amortized and have a low rate base, with expensive new ones provides a guaranteed stream of profits for decades to come.  

For example, Southern California Gas Company’s new meters, recently approved by the PUC, add over $1 billion to rate base and will bring the shareholders hundreds of millions of dollars in profits over the next 26 years, even if they don’t work as advertised or become technologically obsolete during that time.  As 1000 union jobs are eliminated in Southern California, customers will lose the safety-related services provided by human meter readers, even though there is no net cost savings from the new technology.

Most residential and small business consumers cannot afford the expensive systems that would enable them to automatically control their consumption in response to hourly price changes.  The winners here will be large industrial and commercial consumers and perhaps some very wealthy homeowners.  Even if non-time-of-use rates are maintained as an option for small consumers, they will go up as large consumers escape regulation that apportions utility system costs among classes of consumers.  In fact, this outcome has always been a central goal of deregulation.

Despite opposition from consumer advocates, Schwarzenegger’s PUC has enthusiastically rubber-stamped every smart meter project that has come before it.  Whoever is elected Governor in November will be able immediately to appoint a majority of this powerful commission.  Progressives need to make sure that the issue becomes part of the election debate.

[Full disclosure: I represent Utility Workers Union of America, Local 132 in its opposition to smart gas meters at the PUC; and I am President of the Board of The Utility Reform Network (TURN), which is leading the campaign to disclose the failings of PG&E’s smart meters.  I am also the Democratic candidate in the 65th Assembly District.]

An Update: PUC Smart Meter Report Raises More Questions than Answers

For the better part of this year I have reported on numerous meetings and hearings on the accuracy of Pacific Gas & Electric’s Statewide rollout of “Smartmeters” and, for some, the resulting bills that, in my opinion, simply defied logic.  

Just a week ago I received my own notice from PG&E that I had long dreaded; I would be getting my “own” meter upgraded to a “Smartmeter” within a few weeks (I reside in the Sierra Foothills near Grass Valley, CA). Immediately I recalled my reporting and what a nightmare the “Smartmeters” had caused for many. I wondered what the status of the use and billing problems were. Had they been resolved?

Surely they have!

Well, …….

Senator to call Structure Group to Legislative Hearing

SACRAMENTO – Senator Dean Florez today attended the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) meeting in San Francisco where the Structure Group released it’s much anticipated study of Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) smart meter program.  The study was commissioned by the PUC following numerous complaints of inaccurate billing following smart meter installation.

“I believe this report raises more questions than answers.  I was especially surprised at the limited number of customer complaints that were reviewed.  I’m also concerned that there were no industry standard established prior to smart meters being placed on residents’ homes,” said Florez



“I think it is key that we take the time now to have an extensive and detailed hearing on Structure’s work product.  So far what is missing from the report is any sense that this was a true ‘investigation’ as opposed to a review of PG&E’s smart meters.”

“I plan to convene a hearing soon and possibly assemble a panel of experts to ensure that what is being reported by Structure meets the standard of inquiry expected by ratepayers.  But bottom line, I’m not satisfied with what I have learned so far about what has been presented by the PUC and Structure at this point,” stated Florez

Hopefully, I will not need to call my own elected official after I get my next “envelope” from PG&E. I will be watching the mailbox for each new bill for the next few months. You might want to consider doing the same.

We Can Be Better than Spain: Building a Green Economy

It’s a happy day in Spain today.  Sure, the whole World Cup was kind of a big deal.  But there’s something else:  Spain has now leapfrogged the United States as the biggest producer of solar power.

Spain has opened the world’s largest solar power station, meaning that it overtakes the US as the biggest solar generator in the world. The nation’s total solar power production is now equivalent to the output of a nuclear power station.

Spain is a world leader in renewable energies and has long been a producer of hydro-electricity (only China and the US have built more dams). It also has a highly developed wind power sector which, like solar power, has received generous government subsidies. (GuardianUK)

I’ll save you all the technical details that got me (as a huge nerd) interested in the story, but instead look at the economic and societal impacts.  In the end, rankings really don’t have much of a real meaning. I guess that it’s good for the Spanish national psyche, which after the 20% unemployment and the “socialist” government’s ill-advised austerity program could use a boost.  But, the greater issue is what is Spain doing better than us.  And here in California, we should be kicking Spain’s butt all on our own.

After all, we have all the inherent advantages (and many more) that Spain has.  The California economy is bigger than that of Spain.  The Spanish economy is roughly 1.46 trillion, ours is roughly 1.85 trillion. Spain has plenty of sun, we have plenty of sun.  Spain has a population that is concerned with the environment, as does California. (Though we’ll get some hard numbers with the Prop 23 question of AB32 repeal.)

So why is Spain now producing a nuclear power station’s worth while we’re still diterhing around the margins?  Well, there’s the obvious issue of our grid.  The upgrading of the grid was supposed to be one of the big projects emerging from the Recovery Act, and that’s happening as we speak. BUt, unfortunately, that’s still going to take a while.  The funding was cut down from the original bill, and we will still need plenty of time to really be able to manage the grid as well as we hope to in the future.  

We’ll also need to think about combining energy storage capacity with the new green energy.  You can start with flywheels and that sort of thing, but the big hope on that front is a grid that can tap into a whole network of batteries parked in the garage of every house. Like…say a fleet of electric cars that can be charged and discharged in times of high or low loads.

But the biggest failure on our part is that we just haven’t aimed high enough. We’ve been content to play around the edges, and our power companies haven’t vigorously pursued green power.  This is one of the reasons that the defeat of Prop 16 was so critical. Had PG&E won that measure, they would have been able to shut down competition and controlled all of the purchasing of power.  Instead, we can work through our elected representatives to bring more green power.

In the end, you don’t get to be the world’s leader by spouting platitudes. It’s nice to hear the Governor talk about green power, and for Meg Whitman to tut-tut the concept. But California needs a leader that will affirmatively drag our economy into the new green economy.  Years ago, they used to call Jerry Brown Governor Moonbeam.

Well, today, we need Governor Sun Ray or Wind Gust.  How’s about it Jerry?

PG&E Earned This

If ever any corporation earned regulatory legislation, PG&E did so when they spent nearly $50 million of ratepayer funds to try to pass a constitutional amendment to guarantee the monopoly.  And Mark Leno is making it happen.

Senator Mark Leno today announced legislation that would prevent Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) from using ratepayer funds to finance future political campaigns. The bill allows the corporation to continue participating in political campaigns, but stipulates that money derived from ratepayers cannot be used for political or public affairs expenditures.

Senator Leno’s bill requires PG&E to report its annual political and public affairs spending to the California Public Utilities Commission. The PUC will ensure that all political and public affairs spending identified in this report did not derive from ratepayer funds.

This is already the rule for municipal utitilies.  And, frankly, if PG&E wants to guarantee its monopoly so much, they should be totally fine with competing on a level playing field.

What do you think the odds of that are?

Despite Spending $46 Million, California Rejects PG&E

I’ve been a political campaign junkie for years.  And the frustrating part about this job is that after going to Election Night parties, I have to go home and write about it for readers to view the next morning.  So if a particular race takes the whole night to resolve, I could be up very late.  But I had no problem sticking around the “No on 16” campaign party last night until 1:00 a.m. – monitoring the results with Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, State Senator Mark Leno and our good friends at TURN.  Because last night’s defeat of Prop 16 was one of the most historic victories in California history.  Outspent over 1,000-to-one by a monster utility company, consumer advocates defeated by a 52-47 margin an odious measure that would have cemented PG&E’s monopoly. To call this a David & Goliath victory does not give it justice.  As my friend Robert Cruickshank wrote at Calitics, it’s like “an ant taking down an elephant.”  Oh, and Prop 17 failed too.

PG&E is desperate to stop community choice aggregation – where local governments can purchase energy to offer their constituents a “public option” to the company’s monopoly.  Proposition 16 would have required a two-thirds vote of the electorate before cities can do community choice aggregation, and cynically dubbed it the Taxpayer’s Right to Vote.

Never mind that taxpayers already have the right to vote out their elected officials – if they don’t support community choice aggregation.  Never mind that ratepayers were not given the chance on voting for PG&E as their energy provider.  Public power is not even one of my top “issues,” but I was outraged that PG&E would try something like Prop 16.

PG&E shattered campaign spending records with $46 million to pass Prop 16 – ratepayer money that we give them every month when we pay our energy bills.  The only organized opposition was TURN (the Utility Reform Network), who only raised $90,000.  Bloggers got creative by making “No on 16” videos, and a hilarious Twitter feed.  But the campaign often seemed like a rag-tag army tilting at the windmills.

When I arrived at the “No on 16” party at Otis Lounge around 9:30 p.m., the results were looking bad.  We were down by about three points, but the night was still young.  Having watched statewide campaigns for years, I knew it would ultimately come down to Los Angeles County – so I quickly went online to check how we were doing down there.

Not good.  The early absentees had Prop 16 winning L.A. County by 13 points, far worse than where we were statewide.  If this kept on during the night, it was going to be painful.  The public power entity in Los Angeles had just raised rates, and folks at the party said it may be why Prop 16 was doing so well.  Small comfort for the largest county in the state.

Mark Toney of TURN was saying we should be proud that we held PG&E to such a close margin, after having been outspent nearly 1,000-to-one – but I cringed when I heard that.  We were losing.  Sure, we were doing pretty well in Northern California – where people know and hate PG&E, but we were getting creamed down south.  Where the votes are.

But as the night wore on, some folks pointed out how well we were doing in counties like Fresno, Madera, and Mariposa.  These are conservative places in the Central Valley, but PG&E had alienated these customers with “smart meters.”  I checked how we were doing in San Benito County – which political junkies often say is the bellwether of California state politics.  We were slightly ahead in San Benito County, but only by about 50 votes.

And the L.A. County numbers were trickling in – slowly, but surely.  We were still losing there, but the margin was noticeably trending in our favor.  By now, everyone at the party was huddled around a small number of laptops – while I double-checked the Secretary of State’s website with what individual counties were saying.  Places like San Diego and Orange County were coming in where we were behind, but we were not losing ground.

Pretty soon, our three-point loss became a one-point lead – and there was a palpable sense in the air that we could win it.  I wasn’t convinced yet – scouring the L.A. County numbers to see if this positive trend in our favor was not going to start reversing itself.

When 58% of L.A. County had been counted, we were ahead there.  I got up, and boldly shouted that we had won.  It reminded me of the scene in Milk, when Jim Rivaldo tells Harvey Milk not to worry about the Briggs Initiative.  L.A. County had just come in, and we were going to win.  By now, I was sure that we had slain the Prop 16 dragon.

During that whole time, Proposition 17 – Mercury Insurance’s scam to rip off consumers – had been ahead by a wider margin than Prop 16.  As we were all fixated on the Prop 16 results, it became apparent that Prop 17 results were following similar trends.  By the end of the evening, Prop 17 had likewise had the same fate – it also lost by about five points.

As of 4:00 this morning, Prop 16 is losing 47-53 – with 91.6% of all precincts reporting.  Not only is this a stunning rebuke of PG&E, but it is a strong mandate for public power.  Californians want a choice in the energy marketplace, and are ready for a “public option” that provides them with competitive rates and renewable energy sources.

And PG&E will deserve every share of anger, rebuke and humiliation coming at it.

Paul Hogarth is the Managing Editor of Beyond Chron, San Francisco’s Alternative Online Daily, where this piece was first published.