PG&E pitches the Guardian for support

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Our March 17 cover story detailed the shameless, deceptive tactics of both PG&E and Mercury Insurance in June 8 election.
Devon Doss

You know that Pacific Gas & Electric is carpet-bombing voters with its campaign to kill the CleanPowerSF program and pass Proposition 16 – which would prevent such renewable public power programs in the future – when one of their minions calls the Bay Guardian City Editor at his desk at work with their pitch.

That’s what happened this week when a representative of a PG&E front group, the Common Sense Coalition, called me to warn about San Francisco’s “dangerous energy scheme.” I listened for awhile, and then asked the guy a few of my own questions.

“What is the Common Sense Coalition?” I asked, a seemingly straightforward question that I already knew the answer to. I could hear him fumbling through his notes looking for the answer, and when he finally started to read me his deceptive script about “concerned citizens,” I asked another, “Where does the Common Sense Coalition get its funding?’

He didn’t seem to know, so I told him that PG&E Corp. has dedicated at least $35 million in ratepayer money – that is, profits from the high electricity rates paid by San Franciscans and PG&E’s other captive customers – to the campaign being waged by its front groups.

That campaign includes slick mailers and ads on websites (including the New York Times), television, and print publications, asking, “Do you think voters deserve the right to have the final say on how our money is spent?” Actually, the measure requires a two-thirds vote, which is nearly impossible to obtain when PG&E spends tens of millions of dollars to distort the truth in every election that its market share is threatened.

And the truth is that we do have a right to vote on the elected officials who pursue programs like CleanPowerSF, but we don’t have a right to vote on whether we get our power from PG&E or whether it uses our own money against us.