Power of purse

Speaking of the corrupting influence of corporate money in politics, here comes the Taxpayers Right to Vote Act. It was bad enough when PG&E spent an initial $3.5 million to collect signatures to qualify this euphemistically named measure for the June ballot in California. Last month, the utility wrote another giant check—$3 million—to begin funding the campaign to pass the initiative.

The measure would make it near impossible for public utilities like SMUD to expand into PG&E territory, and citizens who wanted to create their own public power agency would be almost unable to do so, because the measure would require local governments to get approval from a prohibitive two-thirds of their voters before changing their power provider.

It’s no surprise that PG&E, which posts some of the highest electricity rates of any power provider in the nation, is coming on strong for this measure. Who can forget the knock-down, drag-out fight in 2006 when Yolo County attempted to drop PG&E and join up with SMUD? PG&E spent a record-breaking $11 million to beat back the Yolo/SMUD marriage.

There’s no doubt that PG&E’s money has only just begun to flow. The power giant wants its way … again. Let’s not let it happen.