Leno Bill Prohibits PG&E from Using Ratepayer Funds in Future Political Campaigns

by Ali Bay on June 15, 2010

SACRAMENTO – State 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.

PG&E recently spent more than $46 million of ratepayer funds to finance Proposition 16, a measure on the June ballot that would have made it difficult for local communities to establish municipal power agencies or community choice aggregation, as was done recently in Marin County. Voters defeated the measure despite claims by PG&E that the initiative would have preserved the “taxpayer’s right to vote.”

“PG&E launched a dangerous and misleading political campaign – with ratepayer funds – that had only one goal, to preserve the corporation’s monopoly,” said Senator Leno (D-San Francisco). “The state’s largest electrical and gas company should not be able to use ratepayer-generated profits to write special rules into the state constitution protecting it from competition. This measure ensures that local communities across the state have the ability to launch their own municipal power agencies, which will in turn encourage competition and help keep our rates low.”

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.

Language for the new legislation will be put into a Senate bill and heard in policy committees in the coming weeks.

Ali Bay is the Press Secretary for Senator Mark Leno.

Filed under: Archive