Could California Take Public Ownership of PG&E? – Pacific Standard
In Providence, Rhode Island, activists have called for the nationalization of electricity provider National Grid. After protesting proposed rate hikes, the Providence chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America launched the #NationalizeGrid campaign, a multi-tiered effort aimed at ending utility shutoffs, limiting rate increases, and establishing democratic control over the primary gas and electricity provider in the state of Rhode Island. “We believe wholeheartedly that the state’s utility system should not be in private hands and making profits for shareholders,” says Will Speck, a member of the group and spokesperson for the campaign.
While the campaigns in Rhode Island and California may seem fledging, they’re not without precedent. There’s already one state in the union that provides electricity to its businesses and residents via community ownership rather than for-profit corporations: Nebraska.
Despite its status as a Republican stronghold, Nebraska has long been a pioneer of the socialization of energy distribution. It’s home to some 166 different community-owned utilities, servicing its population of nearly two million. And public ownership has not proven to be an expensive luxury: Public power rates in Nebraska are lower than the national average, with the cost per kilowatt hour lower than all its neighboring states. “That’s because local, not-for profit utilities have the power to put their neighbors first,” reads the Nebraska Power Association website.