Poll: PG&E is in trouble


Internal polls by Pacific Gas and Electric Company's consultants show that Prop. 16 -- the scandalous attack on public power and community choice -- is still trailing, despite $45 million in advertising, a source familiar with the polling told me today.

The tracking polls show that PG&E is having a hard time getting above 40 percent support in some parts of the state, particularly in the Central Valley, where complaints about smart meters are soaring. "PG&E's name is just shit out there," the source told us.

The utility had planned to spend $35 million on the campaign, but has recently dumped in $10 million more -- a sign that Prop. 16 is still lagging. And despite the fact that the No on 16 campaign lacks the money even to do a single major television buy, the public apparently isn't buying PG&E's line. It doesn't hurt that nearly every major newspaper in the state has opposed the measure -- and that PG&E is having a hard time finding allies.

So it's possible that the private utility will wind up spending $45 million or more -- and wind up losing, and in the process, alienating a wide range of political leaders and community groups. Peter Darbee, you're doing a heck of a job.


That $45 million in political advertising should come out of the pockets of P,G&E shareholders not ratepayers.

Posted by Guest Tony Gantner on May. 27, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

PG&E Shareholder money is all (or at least at one time was) ratepayer money. If they have $45 million to waste on an evil attempt at a constitutional amendment their regulators are letting them earn too much money off ratepayers' backs.

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

That's the theory, Tony -- but at the same time, PG&E is talking about raising rates ....

Posted by tim on May. 27, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

One of the unfortunate aspects of political campaigns is that the people involved can get away with lying.

In the case of Prop. 16, proponents claim that taxpayers have no right to vote on government programs and projects relating to energy, when history -- especially PG&E's eight-figure expense amounts to defeat public-power and clean-energy initiatives -- proves otherwise.

Furthermore, regardless of how one feels about whether the job of providing electricity should go to the public or the private sector, the really compelling reason to defeat Prop. 16 is that it would sabotage the democratic concept of "one person, one vote."

Posted by Gino Rembetes on May. 27, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

So the 2/3 requirements for existing municipally run electric companies (Alameda, Santa Clara...) to switch back to PG&E, SDG&E, SoCal Edison is "one person, one vote."?

How about the 2/3 vote requirements to for new property taxes is this "one person, one vote."

How about the 2/3 requirement to pass a stae budget is this "one person, one vote."

Really you and the Bay Guardian just hate PG&E....

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2010 @ 6:56 am

3 wrongs don't make a right.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 07, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

Tim, your published information does not support your conclusion. You wrote that "PG&E is having a hard time getting above 40 percent support in some parts of the state." What if support is exceeding 50 or 60 percent in other parts of the state, and those latter parts are more populous than the former parts? In that case, Prop. 16 would be doing just fine, not "trailing" as you wrote. It's great that you squeezed tracking poll results out of PG&E's consultants. But how about giving us the complete results and letting us decide for ourselves whether your analysis is correct?

Posted by Guest Randy Munyon on May. 27, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

Will rates go down if community choice/public power is implemented here? I'm all for it if rates go down.

Posted by Patrick on May. 27, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

The answer is absolutely Yes. Public Power rates are, on average, 25% lower than rates from privately owned utilities like PG&E.

In the case of Community Choice projects like CleanPowerSF, because of their higher clean energy content, these rates will be about the same as PG&E's at the beginning (due to the up front cost of renewables installation) however once those installations are paid off and start delivering essentially free energy, costs will go down dramatically; especially when you consider the reality that PG&E's electricity mix is based on natural gas which will continue to go up in price as natural gas reserves continue to become more and more depleted.

Posted by Eric Brooks on May. 28, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

I hope that's true, but I ran an Internet search and found a May 2010 Examiner article saying: "San Francisco Public Utilities Commission General Manager Ed Harrington said charging PG&E rates under the plan has been a conundrum."

That said, I lived in Palo Alto years ago. I believe they owned their own utility and the electricity rates were pretty reasonable.

Posted by Patrick on May. 29, 2010 @ 7:25 am

Here is a response that I wrote replying to Harrington's ridiculous claims that renewables are more expensive..

A 15-20 year pay back period is what allows the CleanPowerSF program to pay for itself and give Power Choice a reasonable profit, and still meet or beat PG&E rates. The CleanPowerSF plan was -designed- over 6 years ago to do exactly that, and everyone involved has been fully aware of this ever since; including SFPUC General Manager Harrington. And yet Harrington actually tried to argue with a straight face that the program should have a 3-5 year payback period.

What Harrington was doing, was purposely and absurdly, utterly leaving out this key mathematical factor of the long term pay back period, so that his charts would falsely show that solar and wind power are more expensive, when over time they are actually cheaper, especially when combined with broad scale energy efficiency programs.

Harrington's presentation was nothing but a magician's parlor trick designed to dupe commissioners and the public into believing the program couldn't work. Fortunately, the commissioners didn't fall for it.

So the really important question is.. Why would Harrington play such a desperate and absurdly transparent shell game in an attempt to mislead us?

Who benefits Mr. Harrington?

Posted by Eric Brooks on May. 29, 2010 @ 10:23 am

start delivering essentially free energy, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2010 @ 7:00 am

Well... Let's see here 'guest'...

You buy solar panels and energy efficiency installations.. You install them.. After the cost of the panels and installations are absorbed by the savings that you gain for no longer paying for fossil fuel electricity (in 10 - 20 years) you are then getting energy for free from the solar panels (which last much -longer- than 20 years).

What part of basic mathematics do you not understand?

Posted by Eric Brooks on Jun. 06, 2010 @ 7:41 am

Tim, I'm curious--how were you able to find out about the poll? And what are the figures for the city parts, like here in the Bay Area, LA, and SD? If Prop 16 fails it will be a great victory. Huge.

I live in Marin and am good friends with Charles McGlashan, who spearheaded MCE to victory through its EA. Very exciting times.

We've never met, but I attempted to secure SFBG some bridge funds for the lawsuit and have not been successful. I like Bruce a lot. SFBG is a mature form of a very good weekly. In the late '70's I sold ads for Straight Creek Journal in Denver. SO glad you are doing what you are doing.



Posted by Jonathan Frieman on May. 27, 2010 @ 11:03 pm

This is really heartening! And I do think it makes sense. If PG&E had anything positive to tell us (from their perspective), they would've released some polling data.

When this monstrosity goes down, I think the next project should be a Ratepayers' Right to Vote Act. I resent my money going to underwrite a political campaign I'm totally opposed to.

Posted by Greg Kamin on May. 28, 2010 @ 10:04 am

VOTE NO ON PROP 16. PG&E is a Fossil fuel industry corporate criminal. They are doing everything possible to prevent our planet and economic recovery, through the development of clean energy, because it threatens the way they make money, by burning, polluting and monopolizing.

Posted by Rob SImpson on May. 28, 2010 @ 10:46 am

Exactly. If we care about jobs, the environment and the economy in California at all we will defeat this bill. The bill would also create an extremely dangerous precedent of companies using the legislative process directly to enhance their corporate wellbeing over that of the people.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 06, 2010 @ 1:42 am

Obviously, I can't name my source for the poll data, but I can say that if this source -- who has never once in the past given me bad information -- is correct, the poll shows Prop. 16 failing to get a majority statewide. There are, however, a lot of undecided voters still, so it's not as if we can celebrate victory. And there are still 10 more days for PG&E to bombard the state with its lies.

And, of course, there's more interest in the GOP primary for governor than in the Democratic primary, so turnout may skew conservative.

Still: The fact that PG&E has spent $45 million and its measure isn't polling above 50 percent suggests that there's still a chance to beat it.

Posted by tim on May. 28, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

Thanks, Tim. Glad to hear that 16 is not polling well statewide. The part is that 15 isn't either, but that's due to the ineptitude of Trent Lange. If you wish more on that sad story, just let me know.


Posted by Jonathan Frieman on May. 29, 2010 @ 11:20 pm

that SF progressives could run a power company?

Posted by glen matlock on Jun. 06, 2010 @ 9:21 pm