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New Analysis: Prop. 16 Protects Energy Utilities’ Monopoly Status

An independent analysis of Proposition 16 finds that if passed, the California ballot initiative would protect the monopoly status of investor-owned energy utilities and block the growth of publicly-owned electric power companies. The analysis, prepared by Berkeley Law’s Center for Law, Energy & the Environment (CLEE), states that the initiative could slow development of renewable energy because public utilities typically support such development from solar, wind, and biomass.
Proposition 16 would amend the California State Constitution to require two-thirds support of voters in a local election before a city government could create or expand public power service. The ballot measure is sponsored and heavily underwritten by the utility Pacific Gas & Electric Company, which opposes creating public providers of retail energy.
The CLEE analysis was co-authored by Steven Weissman, a lecturer in residence at Berkeley Law and associate director of CLEE’s energy research center, and third-year law student Harry Moren ’10. More information about the analysis, which examines legal issues the initiative might raise if state voters pass it on June 8, is available here.