A state public power system is needed to implement the clean energy transition at the lowest cost and to ensure a ‘just transition.’
I support public takeover of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric and other ‘investor owned utilities’ (IOUs). We can best pursue a just transition via public control of the IOUs. This would end the Governor-appointed, monopoly-utility-influenced California Public Utilities Commission’s control of our electricity supply and allow energy planning in the public interest.
A ‘public power’ approach will also greatly increase the funds used to build renewables — because by cutting profit out of the transmission and distribution grids, it will save billions and will also eliminate profit incentives for building new (and unnecessary) high cost transmission projects. Those saved billions can then be used to install renewables and increase efficiency – ultimately re-orienting energy technologies around clean energy and carbon capture in buildings, transit, agriculture, and manufacturing (particularly zero-waste “circular” production).
So let’s envision ‘public power’ in the double entendre sense – ‘green renewable energy power’ for our economy and ‘democracy power’ for the people.
As Governor, I would support legislation to
- Federate the existing IOUs with the existing municipal public power systems into a state public power system, democratically controlled from the bottom up through locally elected energy boards, that in turn elect a state Citizens Utility Board.
- Take over *only* the wires (the long range electricity transmission lines and local community distribution wires) from the existing private monopolies PG&E, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric and place the resulting statewide electricity delivery utility under the control of the publicly elected Citizens Utility Board (to end the Governor appointed monopoly utility influenced California Public Utilities Commission’s control of our electricity supply).
- Allow local cities and counties to then decide whether they a) adopt full public power (controlling both local distribution wires and local electricity supply) or b) instead leave the state in control of the local wires and just take charge of their clean electricity generation and purchasing through Community Choice energy programs (see: http://leanenergyus.org/california ).
- All local programs (whether Public Power or Community Choice) must be incentivized by the state (including with funding) to have a strong emphasis on local renewables and jobs that are targeted to *first* benefit BIPOC communities, low income neighborhoods and customers, and frontline communities that are bearing the most severe impacts of the climate crisis.