Mirkarimi to PG&E: We want our $46 million back

Ross Mirkarimi isn't gonna take it anymore.
Photo by Luke Thomas

Speaking at the June 15 Board of Supervisors meeting, Sup. Ross Mirkarimi introduced a non-binding resolution calling on Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to refund ratepayers for the $46 million it spent on a failed bid to pass Proposition 16, a ballot initiative dubbed the “Taxpayer’s Right to Vote Act” that would have impeded the creation of municipal electricity programs.

While PG&E has publicly stated that its campaign costs were covered by “shareholder funds,” the sole source of income for the parent corporation is money that the utility makes selling electricity, so the $46 million originated in ratepayers’ pockets.

At the meeting, Mirkarimi displayed a map of PG&E’s service territory beside a map of the California counties that rejected Prop 16, highlighting the striking similarity. In San Francisco, Prop 16 was rejected by more than two-thirds of the vote.

Mirkarimi's resolution included several other improbable requests. He extended an invitation to PG&E CEO Peter Darbee to attend a Board of Supervisors meeting, to “discuss what it really and truly means to peacefully coexist,” he explained. “We look forward to Mr. Darbee coming to meet with us.”

The third aspect of the resolution deals with SFERS, San Francisco’s employment retirement system, which owns 106,348 shares of PG&E common stock valued at $4.38 million on the day the information was accessed. Institutional investors such as CalPERS and SFERS account for more than a 60 percent share of ownership of PG&E, according to the resolution.

Mirkarimi is calling on PG&E to refund SFERS, and “urges CALPERS and SFERS to consider divesting its holdings in PG&E stock” if the company refuses.

The resolution also asks the California Public Utilities Commission to carefully scrutinize PG&E’s requested rate hike.

PG&E didn't return our requests for comment the last 10 times we called, but we tried again -- even though the result is predictable.


I'd like a "Ratepayer's Right to Vote Act"

Posted by Greg Kamin on Jun. 16, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

It looks like Mirkirimi and the rest of the lemons would have signed that deal with Power Choice LLC, a deal they seem to say is bad for the city, now after the election. In the Chronicle it says "Even San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, a major proponent of the city's green power movement, said it may be worth scrubbing the Power Choice proposal altogether and putting the contract back out to bid."

I should have voted yes on 16.

The cities progressives will surely in the name of "the people"(tm) have the citizens footing the bill for some catastrophe of red ink around this issue.

Mirkirimi is such a laughable empty suit and one hit wonder, he makes the scheming of Newsom look amateurish by comparison.

Posted by mr matlock on Jun. 16, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

When you're up against the wall, you need to sign something fast otherwise you're stuck with the status quo. The city would be better off with that than nothing at all, but that's not the best negotiating situation to be in.

However, now that PiG&E failed, we're in a stronger position and maybe it's appropriate to see if someone can offer something better.

Posted by Greg Kamin on Jun. 16, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

This guy is a simpleton, for most of the BG reader that means he is stupid!

Posted by Guest on Jun. 16, 2010 @ 9:54 pm

This is what the Chronicle said was in the deal, a deal that Mirkirimi would have been all for if 16 passed

"For starters, to keep rates competitive with PG&E for at least the first three years, Power Choice has proposed borrowing an estimated $400 million - which customers would then have to repay over 15 years in the form of higher rates.

Power Choice also wants the city to use its credit to back the plan, meaning the city would be on the hook if the consortium went belly up."

After three years the only people buying the power at high rates would have been the city and the Bay Guardian offices. When Power Choice crapped out the tax payers would have been on the hook, again.

By the time all of this came due Mirkirimi would have packed his carpet bag and moved on. As always the progressives put the agenda ahead of any sort of sense, Mirkirmi, a SF progressive whining about the way PGE spends rate payer money?

Posted by mr matlock on Jun. 17, 2010 @ 9:04 am

It's still better than having no choice at all, PiG&E or nothin'. If you don't like CCA, you can stick with the Pig.

But fortunately Prop 16 failed. Now we can get a better deal. You should be happy about that.

Instead, you say that you should have voted yes on Prop 16, which would have meant that we still go through with CCA, but get a crappier deal.

That makes me think that you're not really concerned with getting a good deal for the city, taxpayer money and all that stuff. The thing you really care about is sticking it to the progressives.

Posted by Greg Kamin on Jun. 17, 2010 @ 10:46 am

The way the cities progressives run thing we are in for a long road of terrible deals, with a yes on 16 we would of only had one fail.

I voted yes because in a city run by adults some other place it might work out.

I have a little anecdote for you.

When Mirkirimi started requiring business to give commuter checks I went about figuring out how it all worked and started it going for work. I had a few questions so called the SFMTA and looked at the cities web page on the subject. Around the time the law passed that idiot Mirkirimi was in the news bragging about how he added bikes to the program, he was very pleased with himself and all the cheerleaders hazza'd him.

There was nothing on the web page about how to implement the bike thing, so I called the SF environment office or the SFMTA and got an answering machine, so I called Mirkirimis office and got no help, a couple hours latter I got a call from some flunky at his office, the flunky answered all my questions, and they all sounded wrong. So I called the city offices again and guess what, they guy from Mirkirimis office was all wrong.

The lady from the city said that the bike thing was NOT part of the law and if I got something in writing from the IRS I could give out commuter checks to bike riders. I asked her why Mirkirimi said it was part of the law, and I mentioned that everything she told me about commuter checks contradicted that guy from Mirkirimis office? She just laughed more or less. I never saw that idiot in the news saying "oops, I couldn't add bikes to the law sorry for getting your hopes up"

Mirkirimi and the gang are just as bad as the mayor all the progressives complain about, his uselessness and scheming are just as bad and stupid, they just like his version of getting his name in the paper.

Posted by mr matlock on Jun. 17, 2010 @ 12:00 pm

Oh please, spare me the tired old ideological garbage about progressives not being able to run anything. It's really insulting to the intelligence.

Oh, BTW, in your first post you wrote "I should've voted yes," and now the truth comes out -"I voted yes."


Posted by Greg Kamin on Jun. 17, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

The fact that Supervisor Mirkarimi and many others of us supporting Community Choice are, at the first opportunity, immediately reassessing the tentative deal with Power Choice to make sure it is the best option, is a clear indicator that the City itself, its leaders, and community activists holding them directly accountable to be diligent, will be far better stewards of San Francisco's energy future and pocketbook, than private, profit driven Wall Street corporations like PG&E.

PG&E's total -lack- of prudence has given us endless rate gouging, idiot smart meters, an 18 billion dollar bankruptcy bailout, new fossil fuel power plants, repeated excessive blackouts, and the waste of over 46 million dollars of ratepayer money in an attempt to subvert the California constitution to entrench corporate monopoly domination.

The reassessment of the Power Choice contract is iron clad proof that Community power advocates have been correct all along; that San Francisco should be running its electricity service - not Wall Street.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Jun. 18, 2010 @ 10:50 am

the only people buying electricity from power choice LLC would be the city and a few true believers after three years, the company may well have went bankrupt and and the tax payers would have been holding the bill on that.

Part of the deal according to the Chron was to offer cheaper rates for three years borrowing against future income, after three years who would be buying it other than the city?

But Mirkirim and the rest of the gang would have cheered the whole way as it went down the tubes, just because they wanted to look like they beat PGE, they would have signed off on anything and they would have then said it was a great deal the whole time, "who knew things would have turned out like this?" This is habitual, they put their so called progressive "values" ahead of running the city well. They probably would have tried to find some way to coerce everyone into buy electricity from the people they choose too.

It escapes me how people keep making excuses for this behavior, the progressives were perfectly willing to sign a deal based on ideology that now they say is bad.

The city very likely would have to foot the bill for the terrible choices, again. That would mean taking money from other progressive pet projects, its not like progressives pay much in taxes to keep the city going so it wouldn't hurt them there.

And who in the world ever holds the cities progressives accountable for anything? The Guardian for example cheers the stupidest mistakes and demands higher taxes to pay for the terrible choices made by the city government? The progressive had this city paying a wheelbarrow of cash to the NRA over that stupid gun law and the your so called watchdog's just yucked it up.

Posted by mr matlock on Jun. 19, 2010 @ 11:22 am

'mr matlock' your lengthy diatribe above is absurdly misinformed and not even logical.

We are talking about a -draft- contract that will still need to be approved by the Board of Supervisors, the Controller, and the Mayor, not to mention all of the grassroots organizers who have been working for more than a decade to shift San Francisco to community based clean energy.

As a core organizer in that grassroots coalition, I can tell you that our number one concern above all others is making absolutely certain that rates stay the same or lower than PG&E rates for the full term of the citywide project and that there is very low financial risk to the City.

The obvious reason for this, is that if we were to put a higher priced, financially risky program in front of customers, they would all opt out of it and there would be no program. So the financial stability of the thing is priority one, and always will be. Period.

The situation with Power Choice, is that, while the company has some positives to bring to the table, it is apparently not capitalized quite well enough to take on as much of the financial risk as the policy makers and advocates are going to require before giving our stamp of approval to a contract.

This is why, even though we had Prop 16 breathing down our necks, we did not in fact approve a final contract before June 8th.

Since we clearly had the fiscal prudence to not jump the gun just because we were facing Prop 16, this shows that we -local- policy makers are of course doing exactly the opposite of what you are claiming, which makes your entire argument fall flat on its face.

And by the way, the Power Choice contract is not necessarily on the outs. The next step is to analyze its short comings and see if there is a way to change the way the contract and program are structured so that the risk is reduced to the City enough to make it work.

When I personally heard of the 400 million loan idea, it was a nonstarter for me immediately, and I doubt that it is necessary or desirable.

Now that we've got the Prop 16 battle out of the way, we can be very methodical about hammering this program out so that it works properly. And that is exactly what we will do.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Jun. 19, 2010 @ 2:13 pm

I get a laugh out of these after the fact excuses and rationalizations. The progressives history of burning through tax dollars for no good reason but ideology is openly obvious.

Grassroots organizers, thats rich, the people who cheer the progressives along as they toss other people's money into the street are really watchdog for good government? Thank god we have the republicans at the federal level to save us from the oil companies like BP.

"Now that we got prop 16 out of the way we can drop our terrible scheme"

Posted by mr matlock on Jun. 20, 2010 @ 2:22 am

I suspect Mr Matlock has a "Tea Party" to attend

Posted by Guest on Jun. 26, 2010 @ 7:45 am

Tea party types are just as deranged and out of touch as progressives. I suspect guest has an encounter group to go to, so as to talk about guests feelings.

Posted by matlock on Jun. 26, 2010 @ 10:37 am