For Immediate Release:
Contact Paul Fenn
October 14, 2001
510 451 1727
Governor Davis Vetoes Community Choice Bill
AB9xx Sponsored by Carole Migden, was Written by Local Power in Oakland, California
California Governor Gray Davis vetoed the Community Choice bill today after it was passed nearly unanimously by both the Assembly and Senate in recent months, prompting some to call on legislative leaders to override the Veto.
AB9xx was the only energy legislation to pass the second extraordinary session. Observers expressed outrage that the Governor would veto a bill with broad bipartisan support and only one vote in opposition. In particular, they criticized the Governor's unexplained veto of the Community Choice bill following a controversial California Public Utilities Commission end-run around the legislature to bail out Edison.
Community Choice advocates called for an override of the Governor's veto on Monday as "a repeat of AB1890 with more bailouts and no structural reform in sight."
"California's legislature has not overridden a Governor's veto since 1978, but now is the time to do it," said Local Power director Paul Fenn, who drafted the Migden bill and is calling on the legislature to override the veto. "The bailout and veto should not be the last word on how to handle the energy crisis in California."
The Community Choice law would restructure the electric industry by allowing municipalities to act as energy services buyers on behalf of their communities much as they already do for garbage and recycling services, cable TV, etc.. It is widely regarded as the best hope that California's market will one day gain some semblance of normalcy.
San Francisco, Marin County, Oakland, Berkeley, and other Bay Area cities passed resolutions asking for the bill in recent years. Marin County is now considering a solar and wind proposal modeled on San Francisco's 50 MW solar power plant, and Berkeley is considering granting permits to Local Power to erect a wind monitoring station on the Berkeley Pier. Mayor Jerry Brown has also expressed an interest in renewable energy development in Oakland.
"The Community Choice bill promised more in terms of a long term solution than anything the Governor could put on the table," said Fenn. "Cities could make large volume, long-term purchasing to lower the price of bulk power, do community conservation and solar programs just as recycling is now part of a garbage service. It was the only worthwhile energy measure that made it through the legislature this year, and Davis vetoed it. That more or less says it all."
Community Choice passed into law in Massachusetts in 1997 and Ohio in 1999, and has already bested all other deregulation states in terms of levels of market participation. Recently, an Ohio Community Choice consortia of municipalities with 450,000 customers surrounding Cleveland chose Green Mountain Power in a six-year contract, expanding Green Mountain's national customer base from 100,000 to 550,000. They changed to 98%/2% natural gas/renewable energy at a cheaper price than the 60%/40% coal/nuclear power mix they had previously received. "What's wrong with that?" Fenn, who called for the legislature to override the Governor's veto "in light of the recent Edison bailout."
30-30-30 Copyright 2001 by Local Power.