PUBLIC POWER IN SAN FRANCISCO (7/24/08)
Public Power in San Francisco is here to stay and right now there are the most astute proponents who want to manage our destiny linked to energy issues and stop the greed that has been in the domain of some entities that have fleeced innocent - constituents for over 100 years. Rich folks have maintained ripping off the poor and cashing in on their Stocks and Shares - dividends.
When San Franciscans chose to create the Hetch Hetchy system - those that have read the Raker Act know that San Franciscans were promised cheap, clean water of course hydro-electricity.
When the great Engineers and Architects of San Francisco - brought about what is today Hetch Hetchy - the clean water came through and for years millions of constituents have enjoyed clean drinking water. Not once in the many years has the Hetch Hetchy system failed and that one fact is testament to the those that put so much of into the planning and delivering of a quality clean drinking product.
When it came to the Hydro-electricity as if by design - about 10 years after the Raker Act was passed around 1912 - some rich folks went to Congress and took control of the Energy Issues. They had some little cause to ponder over - the Transmission Line had not reached San Francisco and stopped some 40 miles away South of the present Martin Transmission hub.
Powerful, greed men, greased palms and convinced Congress that Pacific Gas and Electric could complete the Transmission Line and accommodate the Municipalities, Public Housing and the Army of all their Energy needs - at no cost. All that would change in time - but few know the history of this dirty deed.
Pacific Gas and Electric would have proprietary rights and the rest in history. Sad but true - the City engineers and architects did their best and PG&E came in and took the rest. Only the filthy rich could invest in PG&E and since then PG&E has been playing their crooked games for over 10 years without any impunity.
It requires a PhD to first read a PG&E bill and more one further skilled in dubious machinations to make sense of any PG&E bill. PG&E can find the most remote of reasons to charge you an exorbitant price and you have nothing to defend yourself from - since they provide you with much need energy - pay it or forever hold your peace.
During the energy crisis of 2000 - I paid eighty hundred percent of my usual energy costs - there was no explanation - in fact you could not find anyone to talk to, to resolve any issues less have a meaningful - dialog.
Remember there was NO energy crisis the California Independent Systems Operator (CAISO) chose to be bluffed by Rogue Energy Companies such as Enron - who created scenarios where Energy was artificially traded and inflated - while all the time innocent customers - had to pay through their - nose.
Pacific Gas and Electric has sent out a mailer - in recent days - that it would take the City and County of San Francisco over $40 billion to buy them out. Well, the City and County could rent out the space at $400 per square meter - linked to all the transmission lines, and other facilities - in and around City property. We know PG&E will not permit us to steal the golden egg - they will go to Court and use any and every ploy to stall anyone - taking over their golden nest.
On the other hand we have to be realistic. Can this City and County of San Francisco maintain a High Power Electric Crew with good benefits and capable of maintaining the transmission lines, the hubs, and other related facilities on a par if not better then what Pacific Gas and Electric - does? The answer is NO. Add to that the trucks, machinery, specialized training, and we are getting into an area that is mind boggling.
San Franciscans were not savvy enough not to permit PG&E to take over the transmission lines but what is more over the years dictate terms. At the Presidio of San Francisco for example every year the Army would negotiate a price for the yearly bill - in the millions and PG&E always got the best deal.
There were no individual meters at the Presidio of San Francisco. How this method of payment was arrived - I do not know. The Raker Act guaranteed free energy - over the years PG&E settled for a discounted price - and then got what they wanted for many years millions from the Army.
The same with Public Housing for years no one paid - may be the Housing Authority did - then suddenly the tenants had to pay and some paid in the hundreds. Often times some tenants had no money left - after paying their PG&E bill. Thousands of innocent, poor tenants went to sleep for days and weeks on end because PG&E demanded their money. If you do not pay - guess what? No electricity, no heat, no television, no electric blanket.
If nothing happens the wings of PG&E must be clipped. Cost for Right of Way must be negotiated and linked to Market Price. T he reason is simple - conduits built by PG&E are rented - many times over and that is how PG&E covers their cost and makes huge profits.
Can the City and County of San Francisco stand tall and bring about this change? Can we fight PG&E in the Court where for every one attorney we send - PG&E will send forty seasoned lawyers? PG&E has taken the City and County of San Francisco to Court and to the Cleaners - many times - others may not know this but I do.
Public Power sounds good and when something sounds good - it is too true to believe. The few that rattle, rave, shout, and scream mean well - but the details are tough to work out. It is all about money and delivering a quality service. PG&E has it all under control - they will die a long slow death - rather then give up their proprietary rights and jurisdiction - however - illegally acquired.
We had a great showing at City Hall - lots of speeches and fun fare and that is good. People spoke and I did not see one of them attend the Stakeholders meetings over the years. None of them that made speeches fight for Community Aggregation. Not one of them attended the Jefferson-Martin Transmission line negotiations. Less the Pitsburg-Potrero transmission line or TransBay Cable negotiation. Talk is cheap but what is disturbing the representation and the clichés floating - around. The devil is in the details - but this one is very convoluted.
Politicians love to talk the talk but rarely will you find one that walks the walk.
Enjoy the pictures from the rally July 22, 2008:
Rally for Public Power in SF
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