In the 1990s, utility regulations promised to do for electricity what it had done for airline travel and telephone calls - reduce costs by 90 percent for consumers. California instead did what government had done to cable television costs; used over-regulation so that only the largest companies could survive the political phalanx they created.

In the early 2000s, a California Governor was recalled because he refused to use an executive order to mitigate the energy crisis government over-regulation had created. PG&E, the largest government-chosen utility, was banned from owing its power lines, and they could not change rates without government permission. They could not buy on the spot market, when demand was high, without government permission.

So when wildfires tore across the state and the government tried to blame PG&E, the company unwisely responded that they were not in control of power lines, they were actually banned by law from cutting away dead trees and grass near them. That was all true, but it's a dumb thing to tell the public that environmental policies in defiance of long-known science - so well-known natives did it a thousand years ago - caused fires. It makes government look bad(1) and politicians hate looking bad.

In the resulting fight, they both lost. Voters recalled Governor Grey Davis and voted in a Republican, Arnold Schwaraenegger, while PG&E was reviled and sued repeatedly.

Yet the Republican Governor was able to get some positive changes made despite facing a hostile legislature. The energy trading market came back, and could be used without the Governor or his overpaid political cronies signing off on it. We still have brownouts but they happen a lot less than they did when Gov. Gray Davis was blocking vaccines, affordable energy, and building water storage so affordable housing could be built. Today, Today, Governor Gavin Newsom only blocks those last two, in 2021 Democrats switched to being pro-vaccine.(2)

California still has the highest utility costs in the nation, mostly thanks to everyone paying more to subsidize both solar installations for utilities and then the rich people who have panels on their houses, but a new paper says they would be even higher if the Governor in 2011 hadn't managed to push through a sliver of free market hope. Their forward commodities market model found that fuel costs per miliwatt/hour fell 2 percent compared to prior periods, which would have been $16.6 million in annual total fuel cost savings.

Instead of making that more common, after Jerry Brown and then his Lt Governor took over, we have higher costs, more regulations, and less water, all while blaming corporations because they have to charge more for things like the special blend of fuel and useless special car emissions standards that do nothing for the environment. 

Yet there won't be a recall again no matter how things get. An entire Congressional seat of people fled to states like Nevada, Florida, and Texas, where policy decisions aren't basically made on a dare.


(1) PG&E is much more collegial now. They let government blame them for everything, and win a lawsuit, and then Democrats let them deeclare bankruptcy and start over. In the meantime the government hands them billions of dollars to offset losses on solar and wind schemes, which the government mandates must be taken in higher costs from conventional energy customers.

 (2) If we really want affordable clean energy, we should pay Donald Trump to state he is against nuclear power. Democrats would then declare themselves Team Science and President Biden would divert money from useless solar and the nuclear enegy we get would lower all our costs 70 percent.