If you can afford a 19 percent increase in your electric bill and are reading this column in a newspaper you can move on to the sports section. The following will not be of interest to you.
However if you are a low income fixed income or even a middle class Californian you are under assault from Sacramento. Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) has persuaded his colleagues to approve his bill to make energy even more expensive. The current mandate that energy companies get 20 percent of their power from “renewable” sources will be raised to a third over the next eight years. This will result in an average utility rate increase of 19 percent according the California Air Resources Board. This is on top of the existing mandate so that the total increased cost to Pacific Gas and Electric customers will be 44 percent to Southern California Edison customers 34 percent and to those served by the Los Angeles Department of Water a Power it will be 74 percent.
Five years ago in a fit of green zeal the Legislature approved AB 32 — the only legislation of its kind in all 50 states — to direct California on a go-it-alone course to curb carbon emissions. Although it was expected to result in some increased costs to average Californians unemployment was well below six percent and the measure was considered “affordable” by backers. Now that unemployment is over 12 percent — with almost again as many underemployed or who have given up looking for work — the real costs of AB 32 will be felt most painfully. The Simitian bill is just the icing on a nasty cake one more blow to those who are struggling to get by.
Our current governor could veto this horrible costly legislation but he has already stated that he agrees with the principles it reflects; i.e. higher energy costs. This is not surprising given that Jerry Brown like most politicians in the majority party is no friend of ordinary Californians. Want proof? Look at his current road show stumping for higher taxes on sales income and cars — the very taxes which slam average citizens the hardest.
In a perfect world the Legislature would be looking for ways to unleash economic activity so that Californians could get back to work while the market provided incentives to expand the development of alternative energy sources. Instead Sacramento is imposing another draconian energy tax on those trying keep the lights on and heat their homes.
When informed the people had no bread Marie Antoinette is supposed to have said “Let them eat cake.” But for many Californians not only can they not afford the ingredients for a cake now they can’t afford the power to bake it. Our current political leadership makes Marie Antoinette look like Mother Teresa by comparison.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association — California’s largest grass-roots taxpayer organization dedicated to the protection of Proposition 13 and the advancement of taxpayers’ rights.