Let’s Own PG&E
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), our region’s investor-owned, for-profit energy utility has been responsible for many severe disasters affecting the health and safety of California’s working class.
Corporations like PG&E exercise enormous control over our political system. Corporate-backed politicians have repeatedly spent billions of dollars of public funds to address disasters caused by PG&E and limited its liability so as to protect the profits of the company’s investors and executives. Meanwhile, certain liberal forces in California have considered, as responses to this crisis, both public ownership and a privatized break-up of PG&E into a "competitive market" of smaller for-profit utilities.
We as socialists reject further privatization or market competition. These proposed "solutions" are continued capitalist exploitation of the crisis they have themselves created.
Public Ownership of PG&E
Earlier movements have fought for public control of PG&E. Such a movement now is an opportunity to bring together a working-class political coalition to fight against corporate polluters and for an ecologically sustainable and just society. We stand broadly for democratic control of the economy and especially for essential goods like energy.
Public and worker control of energy utilities would be a critical step to build our movement. This would increase the capacity for working-class control of all energy companies, including the powerful fossil fuel corporations who must be dismantled to stop catastrophic climate change.
Placing control of energy utilities in the hands of the public and workers would be a critical step towards a Green New Deal, a massive public program of economic transformation and ecological restoration based on expansion of union jobs and a just transition for workers in existing dirty industries. This is a necessary program to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, identified by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the threshold for extreme climate catastrophe.
We are pursuing this campaign in a coalition with Northern California DSA chapters, including Chico, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Silicon Valley, and the Sierra Foothills, and we demand the following.
- No bail-out of PG&E investors and executives. PG&E investors and executives must pay for the disasters caused by their for-profit mismanagement.
- Public and worker ownership of PG&E, for safety, 100% clean energy, affordability, and good union jobs. PG&E should be brought under state control as a public utility, with significant minority ownership share for unions of all utility workers. This will be a first step that makes more local control and local power companies more possible. A public utility will focus on goals of safety (disaster prevention), more rapid transition to clean energy, good union jobs, and affordable power for working people.
- A Green New Deal with public and worker ownership of energy and infrastructure. We demand both state and federal Green New Deal programs, in a historic public mobilization towards just, clean economic transformation. Such a program should include a green jobs guarantee, which means well paying union jobs with shorter workweeks aimed at producing clean energy; public transit; social housing; education, health, care work; and ecological restoration with climate and environmental justice goals. This level of social ownership would also mean public and worker control of all energy companies and all ecologically critical infrastructure, including water and mass transit. A public takeover of fossil fuel companies is necessary to urgently transition them to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Taking PG&E public is an important demonstration and movement-building step towards this goal.
Want to read more about our efforts and the reasons behind them? Check out these articles from East Bay DSA members.