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Takeover Of Electricity Grid By Big Coal Stopped
In both 2017 and 2023 coal electricity giants like Berkshire Hathaway launched attempts to co-opt the entire western U.S. electricity grid and force subsidized fossil fuel electricity on consumers, by taking over and privatizing California's local nonprofit-run grid.
Berkshire Hathaway, founded by billionaire Warren Buffett, has already attacked clean energy in other states, attempting to block renewables from competing with fossil fuel electricity. For example Berkshire Hathaway went to war against rooftop solar and nearly succeeded in killing it in Nevada. Berkshire Hathaway engaged in similar attacks in Oregon, Utah and Iowa.
Corporate Grab To Privatize California's Grid
Berkshire Hathaway's attacks in California were directed at taking over our nonprofit-run California electricity grid, by forcing it to become part of a larger for-profit western United States grid run by Berkshire Hathaway and other fossil fuel energy corporations. The vehicles for this privatization attack were two bills in the California legislature, AB 813 (2017) and AB 538 (2023) authored by Pasadena Assemblymember Chris Holden.
California has almost completely eliminated the use of coal based electricity, replacing it with solar and wind power, but Holden's bills would have reversed that progress and enabled Berkshire Hathaway and other fossil fuel giants to force California to once again accept their polluting fossil fuel based electricity.
These bills would also have brought Warren Buffett huge profits forcing Californians to pay Berkshire Hathaway to overbuild unnecessary, long distance, electricity transmission lines that have triggered so many deadly wildfires in the west.
California should be building local, community-based clean energy networks, and phasing out the use of wasteful and fire-hazardous long distance transmission.
Trump Could Run California's Electricity Grid!
Privatization was not even the worst part of the bills. Because they would have made California part of a multi-state regional electricity grid, they would have given the previous Trump administration (and a possible future Trump Administration in 2025) full and direct federal control of California's grid.
Throughout his presidency, Trump directed federal agencies to subsidize coal and other fossil fuel based electricity so that it would once again become cheaper than solar and wind.
Holden's bills would have allowed such artificially subsidized cheap polluting energy to knock the legs out from under California's vital and growing clean energy transition.
In 2017, Our City, as part of a coalition we helped found and coordinate called Californians for Energy Choice, along with scores of other environmental and consumer groups, engaged a huge statewide effort to stop AB 813. The campaign succeeded when late in the evening on August 31, the last day of the 2018 California legislative session, State Senate President Toni Atkins announced with a press release that AB 813 had been pulled from consideration.
In 2023, Our City and Californians for Energy Choice joined with over 130 environmental, climate action, and social justice organizations statewide to once again kill Chris Holden's AB 538.