June 4, 2010 > The choice for local jobs and the environment: Vote NO on Prop 16
The choice for local jobs and the environment: Vote NO on Prop 16
By Supervisor Dave Cortese
I am asking you to vote NO on Prop 16 because it will hurt local government. Despite difficult economic times, one industry that has seen a boon is solar energy. Homeowners across the United States are adding features to their home to harness the sun's energy. You may have seen your neighbor recently install a solar panel atop their roof - this is a great way to not only generate your own electricity but also offset your monthly electricity bill. It is amazing how much electricity the average family consumes in the United States and this can amount to a sizeable monthly payment. If you think YOUR electricity bill is high, you should see the county's bill!
Santa Clara County spends almost $20M annually on electricity. Granted, we have many facilities to power, from Palo Alto to Gilroy, Milpitas to Los Gatos. County libraries, the Valley Medical Center, the Main Jail, the medical clinics in Sunnyvale and East San Jose - that's a lot of square footage to light and heat. Still, if we are asking homeowners to do their part to manage their electricity bill, through solar panels and other renewable energy ideas, then we should do the same. We are doing so. In the last year, the county has embarked on an ambitious plan to identify which buildings, vacant parcels - any property owned by the county - is suitable for installing solar arrays. Only last month, we joined forces with other cities in the county to purchase renewable energy through a power purchase agreement to reduce the expensive upfront costs of solar panels. Earlier this year, a new public parking garage at the Valley Medical Center opened, equipped with solar panels to draw the sun's energy and feed back into life-saving devices in the cardiac unit, fetal heart monitors in labor and delivery and more.
Our goal isn't simply to generate electricity to fuel our own operations but to offer the electricity to homeowners at a competitive rate, below what your supplier charges. Imagine not having to pay for your utility provider's extra overhead and profit. You'd be surprised at how much you could save. Did I mention that solar energy, unlike coal or natural gas, produces fewer pollutants?
Unfortunately, all of the good efforts of local governments to help residents purchase cheaper and cleaner energy may come to a very swift and sudden halt unless you, the voter, can help us. Proposition 16 is on the June 8 ballot and threatens to take away local governments' ability to purchase cheap, clean electricity for our use, and yours, too. Why would someone want to do that? PG&E wants to maintain its monopoly on electricity service. PG&E is the sponsor of Proposition 16 and its number one contributor.
I am sure you have seen the ads in support of Prop 16. Called the "Taxpayers Right to Vote Act." The bill would require any government who wishes to provide electricity to its residents to hold an election and obtain a two-thirds majority vote. Securing two-thirds voter-approval on any issue is extremely difficult and, unfortunately, will result in local government stepping backwards from innovation.
Please take the time to read about Prop 16. Take note of who is paying for the campaign and who is financing the ads you see on television and in the newspaper. Then, please go to the polls on June 8 (or fill out your ballot from home) and vote NO on Prop 16 on the June 8 ballot.
As always, I am here to help you and to listen to your suggestions. Please call me at (408) 299-5030 or email me at Dave.Cortese@bos.sccgov.org.