Under the proposed initiative, if a utility wanted to expand to serve new customers, it would have to obtain a two-thirds voter approval for the move from the taxpayers within its coverage area and those within the area to which it would expand. Utilities would face obstacles in meeting some of the mandates of the initiative if it were ultimately approved by voters, said Lana Haddad, legislative analyst for Glendale Water & Power.
“It’s kind of an onerous requirement,” Haddad said. “It sets a really high standard.”
Quintero questioned the inspiration for the supermajority vote requirement, which he said was an effort by private utilities to limit the expansion of public providers. Pacific Gas & Electric Co., based in Northern California, has contributed at least $3 million to support the initiative, according to state campaign finance records.
“I think what it really means is that it’s going to preclude municipal utilities from doing what’s necessary to meet the future energy needs, and specifically renewable energy needs,” Quintero said.