- A new ballot proposal in California is taking aim at the state's investor owned utilities. The California Electrical Utility District Act, which will become a state-wide ballot measure for the 2016 election if adequate signatures are collected, would create a statewide publicly owned utility.
- The Electric Utility District, to be governed and operated by an elected Board made up of Directors from 11 wards, would replace Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas and Electric, and the state’s other investor owned electric utilities. Municipal utilities like the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) could participate or work with the statewide utility.
- Former SMUD Rate Advisory Board Member Ben Davis, who leads the effort, said the new entity would lower costs to electricity consumers and create other economic benefits by removing regulatory complexities and shareholder profit considerations. It will create a substantial change in state and local finances, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office estimate.
Supporters of the ballot proposal have until Sep. 10 to collect signatures of 365,880 registered voters — 5% of the total votes cast for governor in the last general election, Pacific Palisades Patch reports.
The effort to create a statewide public utility came from Davis's push for a ballot initiative to close California’s nuclear facilities after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, he told Utility Dive. Efforts to obtain information from the California Public Utilities Commission left him suspicious of the state's energy establishment, including the California Energy Commission and the California Independent System Operator.
Davis said public utilities have 15% lower rates on average nationally than privately owned utilities. SMUD’s rates, he added, average 25% lower than California’s IOU rates.
By law, Davis explained, the new public utility would have the right to acquire, through eminent domain, whatever electric infrastructure it would need to serve the public. Davis worked with the state legislative counsel to write the initiative. He is also working on an initiative to close the Diablo Canyon nuclear facility.