History – PG&E Steals Hetch Hetchy Power


The Hetch Hetchy Story represents the oldest unresolved environmental issue in US history. The mainstream media has mostly picked up on the debate as to whether or not to tear down the O’Shaughnessy Dam, yet the real scandal about how conservative allies of Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) stole hundreds of millions of dollars of electricity produced even in the face of a federal law mandating that all power be distributed using a municipal power system within San Francisco has been hidden from view.  Here are some details of this scandal.

Hetch Hetchy Valley 1875 by Albert Bierstadt

The issue of public vs. private control over electricity production in San Francisco has been raging since 1898. It led to a failed national campaign by John Muir and the city’s corporate elite to block the plan to build a dam in Yosemite Park’s Hetch Hetchy valley. Muir’s Sierra Club and activists today are still demanding that the dam be torn down. But that is not the only  struggle involving Hetch Hetchy.  The other battle is the long censored story about  public control of electricity and how private companies have resorted to lies and political propaganda to bury the issue.  Even though the dam and water system have recently been updated, the real scandal that relates to the dam involves PG&E and how it used its political influence to take control over its power production from 1925 on-wards. The story represents an epic example of private theft of public resources like no other.

Thanks to the work of J.B. Neilands, a former professor at UC Berkeley, the SF Bay Guardian revealed the story of this theft in 1969 – and built up a public education campaign over time that led activists to call for the development of public power services as required in the 1913 Raker Act that originally allowed the dam to be built. More important, it reopened the legal requirement of  the city’s own Charter of 1898 for public ownership of all utilities.

The Hetch Hetchy Battle falls into a number of major time periods.  The first period runs from 1880 to 1901 during the time when San Francisco was starting to really grow, demand for water escalated.  The Spring Valley Water Company private control of the city’s drinking water angered citizens. Investigations for new supplies was split between two camps, those calling for public development as a common resource on one side and on the other, the Southern Pacific elite that had control of the Spring Valley.  The Spring Valley plan was to build an irrigation canal from Lake Tahoe while San Francisco’s mayor James Phelan decided on a plan to build a reservoir at Hetch Hetchy soon after San Francisco passed its new City Charter. The political phase of the battle within the city was to follow.

The San Francisco Labor Party took control of the city in 1901 and shelved the plan. However, following the 1906 earthquake, investigations showed that the Labor Party’s boss, Abe Ruef  had received bribes including one from Spring Valley insiders to accept the Tahoe plan. Ruef, the mayor and the Board of Supervisors would be driven from power.  A new administration would take over and win public funding for  Hetch Hetcy in 1907. After San Franciscans voted to finance the plan the city then had to fight a national battle led by the Spring Valley Company and John Muir, but would finally gain federal rights at the end of 1913 with the passage of the Raker Act.

1922 Attack ad against Prop 19

1922 Attack ad against Prop 19

The next phase of the project, the construction phase took nearly two decades to finish (all work was completed in 1934).  1922, during the peak of this phase that a far larger political battle over water and power took center stage around water and power throughout the entire state.  That year proposition 19 called for the state to build an operate a publicly owned water and electric system.  The ballot lost after one of the largest privately funded campaigns in state history  led by PG&E and its allies.  Many more attempts took place but all failed until President Roosevelt took office in 1932 and went ahead with the creation of the massive Central Valley Project.

But in 1925, following the completion of Hetch Hetchy’s electric system, out of the blue, just as power lines had been run up to its private substation in Fremont, PG&E staged a national media circus with the help of its political allies to win control over Hetch Hetchy’s power. Following a week long convention by the National Electric Light Association with its keynote speaker being Herbert Hoover,  the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to break the specific requirements of the Raker Act by letting PG&E take over sale and distribution of Hetchy power.  For the next 15 years, angered citizens fought to reverse the illegal deal and finally won a brief respite with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of 1941.

SF Examiner June 1925 Editorial Comic

SF Examiner June 1925 Editorial Comic

The battle would resurface briefly after World War II with PG&E and the city cutting a new deal, burying the issue until the late 1960’s when J.B. Neilands and the SF Bay Guardian would bring the scandal back into the public eye.  Thanks to the SF Bay Guardian the issue would take on major prominence in the late 1980’s and launch a new era calling for the end of private control over electricity.

The two tabs  open the Bay Guardian’s extensive timeline describing what happened and contain an excerpt of J.B. Neiland’s original piece from 1969 covering the scandal. The Fourth tab includes the best online resources backing up the issue,  most of it culled from the mainstream media, which only covers whether or not the dam should be torn down, omitting aspects they found too hot to handle.  As such, it offers only a segment of the state’s public power battle long censored by history.


Power struggle chronology | SF Bay Guardian | January, 1997

How the best-laid plans of John Edward Raker and the U.S.
Congress were scuttled by Pacific Gas & Electric:
A chronology, 1848-1997

Editors note: For almost 25 years, the Bay Guardian has been investigating and reporting on the Raker Act scandal. It has never been an easy job: The mayor, the supervisors, and the city attorney have consistently refused to release key documents on the history of the city’s relationship with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG), and PG has consistently refused to release anything. (2016 Note: The battle to take back Hetch Hetchy power did not end in 1997.  The movement continued for years and only recently slowed down, partly due to the Bay Guardian being sold and then closed.)

This summer, political editor Tim Redmond, who wrote his first PG
story back in 1982, was assigned to take a different approach. He
flew to Washington, D.C., and spent two weeks poring over records
in the Library of Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the National
Archives, and the Interior Department library. He came back with
more than 1,000 pages of documents, some of which shed important
new light on the issue. The original memos and notes of former
Interior secretary Harold Ickes, for example, show that the
federal government very nearly moved in 1941 to revoke the city’s
grant and take over the Hetch Hetchy dam.

What follows is a chronology of some major events in the history
of the Raker Act scandal. In most cases, the information comes
directly from primary-source material that Redmond compiled in
Washington. Savannah Blackwell wrote the chronology from 1988 to
1997. Copies of all the major documents are available for
inspection at the Bay Guardian office.

May 1848: Sam Brannan returns from a secret visit to John
Sutter’s sawmill in Coloma and, having carefully cornered the
local market on picks, shovels, and pans, marches through the
streets of San Francisco shouting “Gold!” and waving a quinine
bottle half full of the precious dust, scooped from the banks of
the American River. Within a year, San Francisco has become a
boomtown; gold-crazy miners arrive from all over the world. They
quickly discover that the city has plenty of bars, brothels, and
fly-by-night banking establishments, but very little freshwater.
In fact, some find it’s cheaper to send their soiled clothes by
boat to Hawaii than to get them laundered in town.

1898: The private Spring Valley Water Co. has gained monopoly
control of water service in San Francisco, but the limited
rainfall runoff that feeds its tiny reservoir system can’t
possibly keep pace with the needs of a growing city. After
crossing off 15 alternative sites, Mayor Phelan files in April
1902 for water rights on the Tuolumne River with money from his
own pocket. City engineer Grunsky devises a plan to dam Hetch
Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park and pump the water 200
miles to San Francisco. Although there were better sites for
water, Hetch Hetchy Valley, a granite-walled canyon formed like a
mammoth water tank, rising 2,500 feet above a flat meadow floor,
was chosen because of its enormous potential to produce cheap
electrical power. For the next decade, four different Interior
secretaries seesaw back and forth on S.F. demands to use Hetch
Hetchy Valley as a city reservoir.

April 18, 1906: A massive earthquake sets off a series of
devastating fires that burn out of control. Firefighters are
paralyzed when Spring Valley’s cheaply built private water mains
prove inadequate and critical hydrants go dry. Pressure mounts
for a publicly owned water-distribution system.

1912: With Spring Valley’s private water rates continuing to
rise, and service as poor as ever, city officials press Congress
to give San Francisco a radical and unprecedented federal grant:
the right to construct a municipal water dam inside a national
park. John Muir is furious, and rages: “Dam Hetch Hetchy? As well
dam for water tanks the people’s cathedrals and churches; for no
holier temple has ever been consecrated to the heart of man.” He
has founded the Sierra Club to fight the proposal, and
congressional preservationists line up against it.

1913: Rep. John Edward Raker from the state’s third district,
which includes Yosemite, breaks the impasse with a historic
compromise. The Raker Act (HR-7207) would allow San Francisco to
build its dam – but only on one condition: The dam must be used
not only to store water but also to generate electric power,
which must be sold directly to the citizens through a municipal
power agency at the cheapest possible rates. The bottom line:
Like public water, public power would free San Francisco from
what Rep. Bailey called “the thralldom … of a remorseless
private monopoly.”

The Raker Act includes language requiring formally that San
Francisco accept the grant, with all its conditions, before
breaking ground on the dam. It states that if the city fails to
live up to those conditions, the grant reverts to the federal
government. The Board of Supervisors passes a resolution agreeing
to abide by the terms of the law.

1923: Under the leadership of the brilliant engineer M.M.
O’Shaughnessy, San Francisco builds a tremendous dam on the
Tuolumne and an innovative, gravity-fed system of underground
pipes that can carry the fresh mountain water under the Central
Valley, the East Bay hills, and the Bay, and into the city’s
reservoirs. The Spring Valley franchise is revoked. City workers
begin repairing old mains, laying new ones, and creating a
municipal water department.

The city also builds a hydroelectric powerhouse at Moccasin
Creek, where Hetch Hetchy water is diverted through giant turbine
generators, and buys enough copper transmission wire to stretch
from the Sierra to San Francisco. While the transmission lines
are being built, the city agrees to sell the electricity from
Moccasin to PG.

In May 1923, the National Park Service gets wind of the deal and
begins to investigate. The investigation concludes that the deal
is illegal under the Raker Act, but the solicitor general of the
Interior Department declines to take action, saying that the
arrangement is only a temporary measure to avoid letting all that
power go to waste while the city finishes building its own
transmission lines and local distribution system.

1925: Transmission lines are strung all the way to the South Bay,
when suddenly the city announces that it has run out of money and
can’t do any more construction. The city’s power line ends just a
few hundred yards from a PG substation in Newark – which
conveniently connects to a new high-voltage cable PG has just
completed from Newark to San Francisco.

On July 1, 1925, since the city lacks not only a final
transmission line but the local facilities to distribute its own
power, city officials agree, as another temporary measure, to
sell the Hetch Hetchy electricity at wholesale rates to PG, which
then sells it to local customers at retail. The city makes a few
million dollars off the deal; PG makes a fortune.

The remaining copper wire is stashed in a warehouse and
eventually sold for scrap. Every supervisor who votes to approve
the contract is thrown out of office in the next election.

1927: The supervisors place a general-obligation bond act on the
city ballot to raise the money to buy the utility poles, wires,
meters, and other equipment the city needs to set up a municipal
power system.

PG campaigns vigorously against the bond measure, claiming it
will raise taxes. The Chamber of Commerce and most of the local
newspapers follow the PG line. City officials make only a
halfhearted effort to support the bonds. In the end, 52,215 vote
in favor of the measure, and 50,727 against – but since the city
charter requires a two-thirds majority for general-obligation
bonds, the proposal fails.

1930: In September, Interior Secretary Wilbur writes to Mayor
Rossi and asks what the city is doing to comply with the Raker
Act. Rossi agrees to meet with Wilbur in December, and the two
work out a three-year plan that will lead to San Francisco’s
creating its own public-power agency.

The supervisors place another bond act on the ballot. PG spends
the unprecedented sum of $21,153.71 on a successful campaign to
defeat it. Rossi’s three-year plan gathers dust.

Ultimately, nine bond proposals will go before the San Francisco
voters. PG will mount a high-priced campaign against every one,
and with no effective leadership from city officials to promote
the benefits of public power, every proposal will be defeated.

1933: President Roosevelt appoints Harold Ickes secretary of the
interior. Ickes learns of the 1923 Park Service investigation
into San Francisco’s power sales to PG, and asks his solicitor
general to look into the situation and see whether anything has

Aug. 24, 1935: Ickes issues a detailed opinion concluding that
the city’s contract with PG is a clear violation of the Raker
Act. He urges the city to revoke the contract and move with all
dispatch to establish a municipal power system. Mayor Rossi
acknowledges receipt of the ruling and tells Ickes he’s referring
the matter to the city’s Public Utilities Commission.

March 9, 1937: After repeated warnings from Ickes, Rossi and the
supervisors place a charter amendment on the ballot authorizing
the city to sell $50 million in revenue bonds to establish a
municipal power system. Unlike previous general-obligation bond
measures, the revenue bonds will have no impact on local taxes
and will be repaid entirely from public-power revenues. The
measure once again fails – largely, Interior Solicitor General
Frederic Kirgis concludes, “due … to lack of support by the
Mayor and his failure to campaign for it.”

On March 11, Ickes sends Rossi a cable giving the city 15 days to
convince him it is serious about complying with the Raker Act.
When no such assurance arrives, he instructs the U.S. attorney
general to file suit. Rossi immediately sends a cable to
Washington begging Ickes to delay legal action and asking for
another conference. Ickes wires back that for two years he has
“patiently tried to persuade San Francisco to obey the mandate in
a law which it originally concurred in, but without success,” and
tells Rossi he sees no point in further discussion. “Apparently,”
Kirgis notes in a memo to Ickes, “the Mayor was completely
bewildered and disconcerted by the knowledge of the fact that
conferences and delays would no longer be the regular order of

April 11, 1938: Federal judge Michael J. Roche rules in favor of
Ickes, concluding that San Francisco’s contracts with PG violate
the Raker Act’s ban on sales of Hetch Hetchy power to a private
corporation. The law states that in the case of any attempt by
the city to “sell, assign, transfer or convey” Hetch Hetchy power
to a private corporation, the grant “shall revert to the
Government of the United States.” Ickes, however, decides not to
ask for a forfeiture ruling in the hope that San Francisco will
accept the court’s mandate and comply with the act. Roche issues
an injunction forbidding the city to continue selling power to
PG, but suspends enforcement for six months to give city
officials time to come up with an alternative plan that the
Interior secretary will find acceptable. Ickes announces that
he’s “ready to consider any proposals officials of San Francisco
might have to offer.”

Instead, the city appeals. Rossi vows to fight all the way to the
Supreme Court if necessary and says that “if worst comes to worst
… the city should move for amendment by Congress of the Raker

Sept. 13, 1939: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturns
Roche’s decision, concluding, as the city’s attorneys have
argued, that as long as the San Francisco voters refuse to
approve a bond act for municipal distribution facilities, the
city has no choice but to let PG act as its “agent” for the sale
of electric power. Ickes instructs the Attorney General’s Office
to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.

April 22, 1940: The Supreme Court rules 8-1 in favor of Ickes and
directs Judge Roche to reinstate his injunction. Justice Hugo
Black, for the majority, unequivocally rejects the city’s
position. “Congress,” he notes, “clearly intended to require – as
a condition of its grant – sale and distribution of Hetch Hetchy
power exclusively by San Francisco and municipal agencies
directly to consumers in the belief that consumers would thus be
afforded power at cheap rates in competition with private power
companies, particularly Pacific Gas and Electric.” Black
dismisses the city’s technical arguments in support of the 1925
contracts with a terse phrase: “Mere words and ingenuity of
contractual expression, whatever their effect between the
parties, cannot by description make possible a course of conduct
forbidden by law.”

Black’s opinion acknowledges that city voters have refused to put
up the money for a municipal distribution system and admits that
the courts have no right or authority to tell the citizens of San
Francisco how to spend their money. However, he explains,
Congress has every right to attach conditions to a grant of
federal land – and if the city, for whatever reason, fails to
live up to those conditions, the federal government has the right
to revoke that grant. He quotes the comments of Sen. Walsh of
Montana during the Raker Act debate: “We are making a grant of
rights in the public lands to the city of San Francisco, and we
may impose just exactly such conditions as we see fit, and San
Francisco can take the grant with those conditions or it can let
it alone.”

The ruling concludes that “the city accepted the grant by formal
ordinance, assented to all the conditions … and up to date has
utilized the rights, privileges and benefits granted by Congress.
Now the City seeks to retain the benefits of the Act while
attacking the constitutionality of one of its important

The Chronicle and Examiner both blast the decision, lampooning
Ickes and congressman Frank Havenner, who supports public power,
as tyrants determined to force their will on the people of San
Francisco. Both papers run editorials asserting that the city is
best served by continuing to sell its power to PG and that Ickes’
position amounts to an attempt to take away the millions of
dollars in annual revenue the city receives from the PG
contracts. Only the San Francisco News reports the truth: Every
other city that runs a municipal utility finds public power very
lucrative, and the potential gains to San Francisco from
complying with the Raker Act make the annual payments from PG
look like bird seed.

May 6, 1940: A group of San Francisco businessmen, led by Chamber
of Commerce president Walter Haas, announces plans to push
Congress to amend the Raker Act and eliminate the city’s
public-power mandate. Rep. Richard Welch agrees to introduce the
amendment, and Sen. Hiram Johnson agrees to support it. The Welch
bill never even makes it out of committee.

May 21, 1940: Ickes meets with Mayor Rossi, City Attorney John
O’Toole, Board of Supervisors president Warren Shannon, and
Utilities Manager E.G. Cahill in Washington and warns that if
they don’t quickly come up with a plan to comply with the Raker
Act, he’ll move to revoke the grant and take over the dam. “You
would be here on a much better footing,” he tells them, “if the
record of delay, evasion and double-crossing hadn’t been what it
has been on the part of officials of San Francisco.”

Cahill insists that PG “has seen the handwriting on the wall” and
that something could be worked out, given time. “Yes,” Ickes
replies, “all you want is time until I’m out of office…. I have
always believed that a man can be fooled once, but a man is a
damn fool who allows himself to be fooled a second time, and this
isn’t only the second time.”

July 23, 1940: Rossi, O’Toole, Shannon, and Cahill travel to
Washington again for a second conference with Ickes. Cahill
presents a new plan: The city, he suggests, can lease all of PG’s
local distribution facilities and hire the company’s local sales,
repair, and service staff for a flat annual fee. Then the city
can use those facilities to sell Hetch Hetchy power. In the wake
of the Supreme Court decision, Cahill says, PG has accepted the
deal. He presents a copy of a draft lease contract signed by the
company’s president, J.V. Black.

Ickes asks Cahill if the contract includes an option to purchase
the facilities. Cahill says the company offered that option, but
only at a cost that made the entire lease deal far too expensive
to be feasible.

Ickes studies the contract, and on July 25, he tells the city
that he’s willing to go along with a lease, but that the language
of this deal still gives PG too much control over Hetch Hetchy
power. The San Francisco officials promise to go back and
renegotiate. If PG won’t offer a better deal, Rossi promises, a
new bond issue will go before the voters on the next possible
ballot. Ickes agrees to ask Judge Roche to suspend his injunction
again, to give the city a few more months.

April 1941: The city sends Ickes a new lease contract proposal.
Ickes asks Leland Olds, chair of the Federal Power Commission, to
review it; Olds concludes that it’s a terrible deal. “It is clear
that the proposed arrangement not only does not offer the city
the advantages of public distribution of Hetch Hetchy power,” he
writes, “but may even have the effect of freezing high rates.”

May 22, 1941: Ickes holds another conference with city officials
and points out the problems with the lease contract. Rossi and
O’Toole freely admit that it’s not a good deal for the city and
that it includes excessive charges and fees. They tell Ickes they
submitted it anyway, because it was the best deal they could get
from PG. When Ickes rejects the contract and threatens to enforce
the injunction and begin steps to take back the dam, Rossi begs
for another delay. He says that he’s finally prepared to make the
case to the voters in favor of a municipal buyout, and will try
another bond act in November.

Ickes agrees to ask Judge Roche to hold off another year, until
the summer of 1942 – but only if Rossi and San Francisco’s civic
leaders promise to vocally support the bond act and campaign
strongly for its passage. The Chronicle and Examiner immediately
accuse Ickes of extortion and claim he’s trying to “gag” civic
organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown
Association. Both groups announce they’ll oppose the bond act and
organize a high-powered campaign committee to work for its
defeat. Organized labor, on the other hand, comes out strongly in
favor of the buyout plan. Nearly every union in town endorses it,
and prominent labor lawyer George T. Davis signs on to chair the
proÐpublic power campaign.

Ickes travels to San Francisco to campaign for the bond act. When
chamber officials try to meet with him, he reminds them how much
money they’ve received from PG and tells them to take a hike.

November 1941: Just a few weeks before the bond election, PG
announces a sweeping reduction in local electric rates. The
Chronicle carries the story on the front page. The bond act goes
down to defeat, under another avalanche of adverse publicity and
PG money.

Ickes informs Mayor Rossi that he has no choice but to begin
moving to revoke San Francisco’s Raker Act grant and take over
the Hetch Hetchy dam.

Dec. 7, 1941: Japanese airplanes attack Pearl Harbor in a
stunning, predawn strike, thrusting the United States into World
War II. The War Department quickly looks for ways to redirect the
nation’s electric power supplies to essential wartime industries.

March 1942: The War Production Board orders San Francisco to sell
to the Defense Plant Corp. the entire output of the Hetch Hetchy
power project for an aluminum-smelting factory that is under
construction at Riverbank, near Modesto. Ickes approves the plan,
citing the strategic importance of aluminum to the war effort. He
also notes that the factory site will be close to the city’s
existing transmission lines, allowing the power to be carried
directly from Hetch Hetchy to the factory without PG acting as
middleman. Judge Roche suspends his injunction again, this time
for the length of the contract between the city and the Defense
Plant Corp.

All further talk of enforcing the Raker Act is temporarily
drowned out by the roar of the cannons and the hum of giant
factories turning plowshares into swords.

June 1944: Financial problems and mismanagement bring production
at the Riverbank aluminum plant to a virtual halt, and the War
Department prepares to shut it down. Judge Roche prepares to
reinstate his injunction, but San Francisco files a motion to
once again suspend it while the city finds a new way to dispose
of its public power. On June 26, Roche holds a hearing on the
petition and chides city officials for their constant attempts to
use delaying tactics to evade the law. He then agrees to continue
the matter until August, when the city promises to come forward
with another new plan.

Arthur Goldschmidt, director of Interior’s Power Division, warns
Ickes that the “Hetch Hetchy problem [is] again rising in San

August 1944: Mayor Roger Lapham sends Ickes an entirely new
proposal. It calls for PG to deliver over its lines from Newark
enough Hetch Hetchy electricity to supply all of San Francisco’s
municipal services – the Muni railway, the street lights, General
Hospital, etc. That would amount to about 200 million kilowatt
hours a year. In exchange, the city would allow the company to
keep all the remaining output of the Hetch Hetchy project – about
another 300 million kilowatt-hours a year – and sell that power
to its own customers as it saw fit.

Undersecretary Abe Fortas, filling in for the vacationing Ickes,
rejects the proposal. An increasingly angry Judge Roche gives the
city one more chance to come up with a better plan.

December 1944: Mayor Lapham writes to Ickes with the rough
outlines of yet another proposed solution to the Hetch Hetchy
“problem.” This time, the city proposes to pay PG an annual
“wheeling fee” for transmitting enough Hetch Hetchy power from
Newark to San Francisco to supply the municipal service needs.
The Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts, a pair of rapidly
growing public-power agencies, would buy as much of the remaining
power as it could handle, and resell it to their own customers.
Ultimately, Lapham insisted, Modesto and Turlock would be able to
purchase everything the city couldn’t use. In the meantime, PG
would buy any surplus, or “dump,” power to avoid letting it go to

Ickes thanks Lapham for his letter, reminds him that a final,
detailed plan is due by the end of the year, and warns that the
Interior Department “will not participate in any evasion of the
law, however complex or ingenious. I hope that your leadership
will not, this time, have to waste time, energy and newsprint in
the fruitless pastime of beating the devil around the PG bush.”

January 1945: Ickes writes Mayor Lapham to inform him that the
proposed Turlock-Modesto-PG contracts are not acceptable. “The
proposed agreements,” he notes, “do not carry out the intent of
the Congress in the Raker Act, which was designed to bring
City-owned power, over the City’s transmission and distribution
system, directly to the citizens of San Francisco.” He agrees
that selling the city’s power to Turlock and Modesto, which are
public agencies, might comply with the “letter” of the law. The
big problem, as always, was the role of PG. He reminds Lapham
that Judge Roche’s final extension will expire on March 1.

On Jan. 24, Lapham arrives in Washington and spends four days
meeting with Undersecretary Fortas. With Ickes’ approval, Fortas
suggests an alternative plan: If Lapham would place a policy
declaration on the next local ballot binding the city to
acquiring its own power distribution system – and agree to
campaign actively for the passage of that measure and a bond
issue to carry it out – Ickes would support a congressional
amendment suspending the prohibition on sales to PG for a period
of five years.

Lapham tells Fortas that he’d consider placing the policy measure
on he ballot, but says he “could not at this time commit myself
to an active campaign on behalf of the bond issue.”

June 11, 1945: San Francisco modifies its power contracts again,
slightly. This time, the city agrees to pay PG a wheeling fee for
transmitting municipal power and agrees to provide Turlock and
Modesto with as much additional power as they can buy. The
surplus would be carried on PG’s lines – again, at a fee – to a
handful of major PG customers, including Permanente Metals and
Permanente Cement, who would pay the city directly for the
service. But only when Hetch Hetchy power generation was
particularly high, and the needs of Turlock, Modesto, and
Permanente were low, would any “dump” power be sold directly to
PG, and even then, the amounts would be insignificant. The
contracts would run until 1949.

A frustrated Ickes concedes that, as a practical matter, he has
limited options. The nation is in the midst of a severe postwar
energy shortage, and if he were to take over the dam, no other
federal agency would be in a position to use its power. He
acknowledges that, under the circumstances, he can’t find solid
grounds to oppose the latest arrangement in court. But he notes
that “the plan, while technically feasible, does not carry out
full intent of the Raker Act” and warns that it “does not appear
to assure substantial compliance with the Raker Act beyond 1949.”
He urges Judge Roche to maintain jurisdiction over the matter and
says his department “would oppose present approval of the plan
with respect to the years following 1949.”

He also insists that Modesto and Turlock sign agreements never to
resell their Hetch Hetchy power to PG.

July 9, 1945: City Attorney Dion Holm appears before Roche to
argue that the 1938 injunction – which is still in effect – is
too strict, since it bans the city from ever selling any power to
PG. Roche denies San Francisco’s petition for suspension or
amendment and orders that the injunction become final and

1946: President Truman fires Ickes, who has become increasingly
bitter and unhappy with his job, and replaces him with Oscar

November 1946: The General Accounting Office investigates the new
Hetch Hetchy contracts, concludes that the sale of “dump power”
to PG is probably illegal, and suggests that the federal
government demand an accounting of all past sales to PG and take
legal action to make the city repay its ill-gotten gains. The
comptroller general forwards the GAO report to Chapman, who sits
on it for two years.

January 1948: San Francisco files its annual report with the
Interior Department, which reveals that more than 5.6 million
kilowatt-hours of Hetch Hetchy electricity were sold to PG in
1947. Walter Seymour, director of Interior’s Power Division,
writes a memo to Chapman noting that “certainly, the sale of this
amount of power to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company is a
violation of the Raker Act.” The memo goes on to state that the
federal government could enforce the court injunction and block
further PG sales, but “under the existing conditions of the
shortage of power and the scarcity of fuel, it seems to me that
an action which would result in the wastage of water power would
be unwise.”

Soon, Seymour advises, the federal Central Valley Project will
have completed a transmission line to Tracy and will be in a
position to take over the Hetch Hetchy power output. Meanwhile,
he concludes, “the distribution of energy beyond Newark … will
have to be made by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, until
the City builds a distribution system.”

Dec. 22, 1948: After repeated memos from the Comptroller
General’s Office, Chapman directs Assistant Secretary Krug to
respond to the 1946 General Accounting Office report. Krug
concedes that the contracts appear to violate the Raker Act but
says that, under the circumstances, “it would be inappropriate at
this time to recommend to the Attorney General that he institute

Feb. 9, 1950: The comptroller general writes to the Justice
Department anyway, informing the attorney general that he
disagrees with Interior’s position. He suggests that “action
should be instituted either (1) to enjoin further performance
under the existing arrangement … (2) to declare forfeit the
rights of San Francisco under the Raker Act … and (3) to
recover … the amount received by San Francisco under the
illegal 1925 contract.” The attorney general does nothing.

Aug. 28, 1950: San Francisco begins negotiating an extension of
the 1945 contracts. Michael H. Strawn, commissioner of the Bureau
of Reclamation, reviews the proposal and writes to Chapman to
complain that Interior, in tacitly approving the city’s actions,
“in effect confesses and condones operations both outside the law
and in contradiction to the strong public power policy that the
Secretary of the Interior has followed in the same area in
Reclamation matters.” He suggests that, if the city won’t provide
its own distribution system, Chapman move to take control of
Hetch Hetchy and transfer the power to the Central Valley
Project, which has facilities that are “virtually complete” to
handle the electricity.

Sept. 1, 1950: Ickes, still concerned about the issue, writes to
Chapman with charges that San Francisco is continuing to violate
the Raker Act and urges him to take action. Chapman responds that
he is “fully cognizant of the fact that there has not been a
strict compliance with the [law].” However, he notes: “Thus far,
as you well know, the City and County of San Francisco has not
been able, through the vote of the people of that political
subdivision, to acquire the distribution system necessary to
distribute all of the Hetch Hetchy power. Nor is there any agency
of the federal government which is able to distribute this

1954: San Francisco approves a new set of contracts with PG and
Turlock and Modesto, which will run for 33 years, until 1987.

1955: Rep. Clair Engle presents evidence to a congressional
committee proving that Turlock and Modesto have been reselling
Hetch Hetchy power to PG, violating the express agreement Ickes
insisted on in 1945. Federal Power Commission figures compiled by
Engle show that, between 1945 and 1953, more than 10 percent of
the Hetch Hetchy power bought by Turlock and Modesto has been
resold to PG. The Interior Department, which seems to have
abandoned all interest in enforcing the Raker Act, pays no
attention whatsoever.

1964: Joe Neilands, a biochemistry professor at UC Berkeley,
joins a campaign against PG’s plan to build a nuclear power plant
at Bodega Bay. He runs into Frank Havenner, who tells him that
the nuclear project is awful but that nothing compares to the PG
Raker Act scandal. Neilands, who has never heard of the Raker
Act, is intrigued. He calls James Carr, the new general manager
of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and asks when
the city plans to enforce the 51-year-old law. Carr tells him
that “it is premature to discuss municipal distribution of power
in San Francisco.”

1965: Neilands writes to Frank Barry, the Interior Department’s
solicitor general, who tells him that “we know of no means by
which the U.S. can require the city to acquire the municipal
distribution system.”

1969: Neilands compiles his research and submits it to the Bay
Guardian, which publishes his story under the headline “How PG
Robs S.F. of Cheap Power.” When the Bay Guardian confronts Oral
Moore, general manager of the PUC, he says the city has no plans
to enforce the Raker Act.

1972: At the request of the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal
Assistance Foundation, a group of pro bono CPAs called
Accountants for the Public Interest conducts a study of the
financial potential of public power in San Francisco. The
accountants conclude that the city could clear $22 million a
year, after all costs, by buying out PG’s distribution system and
running a municipal utility. The group urges the PUC and the
Board of Supervisors to commission a full-scale, independent
feasibility study. Not one supervisor is even willing to request
a hearing on the matter.

1973: The San Francisco civil grand jury investigates the Raker
Act scandal, concludes that the city is required to operate its
own public-power system, and asserts that the contracts with
Modesto, Turlock, and PG are “of questionable legality.” The
daily newspapers ignore the report, and it winds up gathering
dust on a City Hall shelf.

1974: Attorney Richard Kaplan and neighborhood activist Charlie
Starbuck file suit in federal court, charging that San Francisco
is in violation of the Raker Act. A district judge throws it out
of court, concluding that Starbuck, as plaintiff, has no standing
to sue for enforcement of the Raker Act. By law, only the
secretary of the interior and the San Francisco city attorney
have the right to pursue that action. Kaplan and Starbuck appeal.

1977: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejects the Starbuck and
Kaplan case, confirming the lower court ruling that a San
Francisco citizen lacks standing to sue. The appellate judges,
however, make a point of stating that they don’t find fault with
Starbuck’s factual claims. If anything, the ruling seems to
continue the federal courts’ record of agreeing that San
Francisco is breaking the law.

1979:Yale University Law School graduate Ralph Cavanagh joins the
Natural Resources Defense Council (co-founded in 1970 by John
Bryson, another graduate of Yale law school who is now CEO of
Southern California Edison). Cavanagh focuses on electric
utilities, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. According to
the Pittsburg-based Heinz Foundation, which gave a $250,000
public policy award to Cavanagh in 1996, “(Cavanagh)’s goal was
to improve the alignment of shareholders and societal interests,
so that utility profits no longer were linked primarily to
promoting increased electricity use.”

1982: A citizen group called San Franciscans for Public Power
puts an initiative on the ballot that would force the city to
conduct a feasibility study on municipalizing PG. PG spends
$680,000 – a local record – funding a misleading campaign headed
by Mayor Dianne Feinstein to defeat the measure. Among the few
prominent supporters of the public-power initiative is
Assemblymember Art Agnos, who holds a press conference outside
PG’s headquarters to denounce the company’s blatant attempt to
“buy San Francisco’s vote.”

1983: Just weeks after the public-power initiative goes down to
defeat, PG officials contact the City Attorney’s Office to start
renegotiating the power-sale contracts, which are due to expire
in 1985. Talks begin in secret at PG headquarters, with lawyers
from the company and the City Attorney’s Office trying to hash
out a new long-term agreement. PG wants to raise the rate it
charges San Francisco for “wheeling” power along company lines
and for “firming” service, which backs up the city’s power supply
when rainfall is low and the generators at the dam aren’t
producing at their optimal levels. Since the recent public-power
measure has gone down to defeat, the city has no real leverage to
use as a bargaining chip against PG. Facing the prospect of
millions of extra dollars in PG fees, the city’s negotiating team
decides to raise the rate that San Francisco charges the Turlock
and Modesto irrigation districts for Hetch Hetchy power.

September 1984: The general manager of the Turlock Irrigation
District, Ernest Geddes, finds out what San Francisco and PG are
up to, and asks Rep. Tony Coelho for help. Coelho, who has become
one of the most powerful Californians in Congress, invokes the
Raker Act: The city, he says, is supposed to sell power directly
to the citizens at the lowest possible cost. Since San Francisco
doesn’t have a municipal utility of its own, he argues, that
provision ought to apply to sales to Modesto and Turlock, which
are public-power agencies. Just to be sure, he introduces a bill
that would force San Francisco to sell Hetch Hetchy power to the
irrigation districts at cost – in other words, for almost

Mayor Feinstein realizes that the bill will probably pass and
that the city will be in a bind. Unless the sales to the
districts bring in fairly substantial revenues, it will be hard
to defend the whole concept of “disposing” of Hetch Hetchy power
outside the city, and new pressure for a municipal utility could
emerge. A longtime ally of PG and a foe of public power,
Feinstein quickly contacts Coelho and cuts a deal: Coelho agrees
to withdraw the bill, but Feinstein has to promise to sell almost
two-thirds of the Hetch Hetchy output to the districts, at
favorable rates, every year until 2015. The city negotiators go
back to the table to continue their talks with PG, with less
leverage than ever.

May 1985: The City Attorney’s Office briefs the Board of
Supervisors in secret session on the outlines of the emerging
power-sale deals and asks the board to approve “the basic
principles” of a new set of 30-year contracts. The board votes
6-0, on roll call, to approve the deal, with no public discussion
or debate, and to accept “interim” two-and-a-half-year contracts
while final talks continue. The negotiators go back to work out
the fine print.

June 1987: Staffers at the city’s Public Utilities Commission and
the City Attorney’s Office argue in internal memos that PG is
asking for completely unreasonable terms in the final contracts,
fee hikes that would cost the city millions. The company refuses
to compromise, and talks break down. Finally, Feinstein
personally intervenes, meeting privately with PG chair Richard
Clarke and hashing out a contract that nobody outside PG thinks
is a good deal for the city. In essence, it requires the city to
keep paying PG millions of dollars a year for “wheeling fees,”
guarantees Turlock and Modesto access to more than half the
city’s Hetch Hetchy power, and effectively sabotages any new
attempt to create a municipal power system.

Fall 1987: Interior Secretary Donald Hodel becomes the latest
federal official to threaten San Francisco with the loss of its
Raker Act grant. He proposes to study tearing down the dam and
restoring Hetch Hetchy Valley. The Sierra Club, among other
environmental groups, strongly endorses the concept – after all,
club members say, the city never kept its end of the 1913 deal.
But Hodel never pursues the matter seriously, and it quickly

1988: On New Year’s Eve, the newly elected mayor, Art Agnos, is
summoned to PG headquarters to meet with Dick Clarke, who tells
him the facts of life: PG controls enough votes on the Board of
Supervisors to block any effort at promoting public power. The
contracts can’t be changed and will never be stopped. And if
Agnos doesn’t want to play ball, PG will crush his political

The city’s budget analyst reports that the contracts are a bad
deal and a violation of standard city procedures and takes the
unusual step of recommending that the supervisors not approve the
deal. A Guardian analysis shows that San Francisco is losing more
than $150 million a year to PG by failing to comply with the
Raker Act and establish a municipal utility.

But the board votes 8-3 to go along with PG for another 37 and
1/2 years, and Agnos, the onetime public-power advocate who
campaigned as an alternative to the pro-downtown politics of the
Feinstein era, signs the contracts into law.

Just a few weeks later, Agnos announces that the city’s budget is
facing a shortfall that could approach $100 million. He warns
that services may be cut dramatically, that small businesses,
Muni patrons, and kids who go to the zoo will have to pay higher
prices to keep the city in the black.

Not once does he mention PG.

1989: As co-director of the NRDC’s energy program, Ralph Cavanagh
becomes the key implementer of the “California Collaborative”
which supported the notion that environmentalists should sit
behind closed doors at the table with private utilities to iron
out their differences and hammer out energy efficient programs to
be run by private utilities. Cavanagh later states publicly that
he regretted the term, because “collaboration still has has
overtones of Vichy, France.” See “Transforming a Mega-Utility”
from In Context, fall 1992.

1991: Energy Foundation is created and founded by the Pew
Charitable Trusts, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur
Foundation and the Rockefeller foundations with a $20 million
budget over three years. Hal Harvey is named Executive Director.
The Energy Foundation states that its mission is to “influence
energy decision-makers at the point of decision.” The intitial
report shows the foundation’s full support of energy efficiency
programs run by private utilities (called “Demand side managment”
(DSM) programs. “A utility executive is unlikely to pursue
efficiency aggressively if his or her company cannot generate a
fair return on its investment,” the initial 1991 report states.
Among 49 other groups, the Energy Foundations grants money to a
consumer advocate group called The Utility Reform Network, but
ends the group’s funding in 1993.

1993: Energy grants $14,000 for nine months to the aggressive
Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Action Foundation, which
fought at the federal level the private utilities’ demand that
their customers pay the full cost of their lost investments. The
same year, Energy grants to EA an additional $80,000 for two

Sept. 22, 1993: The Bay Guardian publishes “A City Held Hostage,”
a report by Tim Redmond that points out that the city is losing
millions of dollars a year by failing to bring its own Hetch
Hetchy public power to the city. Also, Redmond writes, the city
risks losing the Hetch Hetchy dam by failing to comply with the
federal Raker Act of 1913. That act says that, in exchange for
the right to dam the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National
Park, the city “shall develop and use power for the use of its
people.” Actually, the city’s public-power agency, Hetch Hetchy
Water and Power, supplies power to about 1,300 government
entities, including the City Attorney’s Office. But the rest of
Hetch Hetchy’s power gets dumped in Turlock and Modesto. No San
Francisco residents or businesses benefit from the cheap power
generated by the dam — power that is rightfully theirs. Instead
the city pays about $25 million annually to PG for the private
utility to “wheel” (carry) power into San Francisco. Redmond’s
article also discusses a 1940 Supreme Court decision that
determined that San Francisco’s deal with PG was illegal and
issued an injunction ordering the city to establish a
public-power system. The city has essentially ignored the
injunction, although it still stands.

Jan. 12, 1994: Bay Guardian reporter Martin Espinoza exposes the
National Park Service’s plan to hand over the valuable Presidio
electrical system to PG — and then pay the company more than $12
million to take it. The entire deal violated federal bidding
laws. Officials from the city public power agency, Hetch Hetchy
Water and Power, show no interest in supplying power to the
Presidio. In fact, Espinoza reports, Hetch Hetchy general manager
Larry Klein told Park Service officials in 1992 that the
department was not interested in running the system.

Jan. 31, 1994: In the wake of the Bay Guardian’s revelations that
the Park Service was trying to give the Presidio contract to PG,
Supervisor Angela Alioto calls on the San Francisco Public
Utilities Commission to bid for the contract.

Feb. 16, 1994: Public-power advocates urge the city to bid for
the Presidio’s electrical system. But Anson Moran, general
manager of the Public Utilities Commission shows his stripes when
he tells the board’s Select Committee on Base Closures that
selling power to the Presidio could be “too political.”

March 15, 1994: The National Park Service agrees to give San
Francisco’s public-power agency a chance to bid for the Presidio
power contract (RFP) but releases a request for proposals that
virtually guarantees PG will win; the RFP calls for the bidders
to operate a system that PG has designed. The Park Service admits
that the RFP was based in part on information provided by PG (see
“At PG’s Bidding,” 3/23/94).

March 30, 1994: Despite his public statements that the PUC would
prepare an “aggressive bid” for the Presidio contract, PUC chief
Moran privately works to undermine the effort. In a confidential
memo to Mayor Frank Jordan, obtained by the Bay Guardian, Moran
urges Jordan to veto Alioto’s resolution calling for public power
at the Presidio.

April 1, 1994: Mayor Jordan vetoes Alioto’s Presidio public-power
bill. Alioto allies cry foul (see “Good News, Bad News,” 4/6/94).

May 2, 1994: The Board of Supervisors unanimously overrides
Jordan’s veto and approves Alioto’s resolution urging the city to
bid for the takeover of the Presidio electrical system (see “PG’s
Nightmare,” 5/4/94).

Aug. 4, 1994: In a major concession to public pressure, the
historically PG-friendly PUC agrees to bid on a contract for the
Presidio electrical system (see “PG Gets Competition,” 8/10/94).

Aug. 8, 1994: Hetch Hetchy Water and Power submits its bid for
the Presidio system, marking the first time the agency has ever
competed with PG for a contract. But it fails to bring up the
point that PG had no franchise agreement with the city to provide
power there; it also fails to cite the Raker Act.

Sept. 29, 1994: Despite competitive bids by the city of San
Francisco and two other bidders, the Park Service awards the
power contract to PG.

Oct. 13, 1994: Under immense pressure from Alioto and
public-power advocates, City Attorney Louise Renne files a
protest with the General Accounting Office in Washington, D.C.,
to stop the Park Service from awarding the Presidio electrical
contract to PG.

Oct. 31, 1994: The Board of Supervisors votes to raise the PG
franchise fees from 0.5 percent to 2 percent of the utility’s
gross revenue for 1995, and then to 4 percent each year after
that (a rate still below the national average and less than half
of what some cities charge). The increase would bring more than
$21 million yearly into the city’s General Fund.

It would also balance the high fees PG charges the city for
wheeling Hetch Hetchy power: in 1994 PG paid the city $2.4
million in franchise fees for delivery of electricity, and the
city paid PG about $25 million in fees for wheeling power into
the city. PG refuses to pay the new rates. The City Attorney’s
Office does virtually nothing to enforce the board’s legislation,
claiming that PG has won a court injunction barring the increase.
That, it turns out, is untrue: in June 1996, at a public hearing,
Deputy City Attorney Michael Olsen admits to Alioto that no
injunction had ever been issued.

Nov. 7, 1994: Reacting to the surge in public-power activism,
Angela Alioto, as president of the Board of Supervisors, proposes
a special committee to pursue ending PG’s illegal monopoly in San
Francisco and bringing cheap public power to residents. PG
lobbies hard against the proposal, but Alioto succeeds in getting
the board to narrowly approve the creation of the Select
Committee on Municipal Public Power. Alioto notes that, at a time
when the city was closing health clinics because of budget
shortfalls, the potential revenue that could come from
municipalization is too attractive to ignore.

Jan. 12, 1995: The Select Committee on Municipal Public Power
votes to spend $150,000 on a preliminary study of whether the
city should take over PG’s distribution system.

Jan. 12, 1995: In the wake of Bay Guardian revelations that the
city controller and the chief administrative officer had never
performed an annual audit of PG’s franchise agreement — even
though the 1939 franchise deal required such audits — City
Controller Ed Harrington announces that his office will perform
the first audit of PG franchise-fee payments. Harrington defends
the city’s lack of prior enforcement by saying, “There are a
variety of items in the administrative code that aren’t being
done by the city.” The city’s chief administrative officer, Rudy
Nothenberg, is also required by the code to file reviews of PG
compliance with the franchise agreement. But he writes in a
letter to the board that he can’t get involved in financial
issues with PG because his wife works for the utility. The Bay
Guardian later discloses that Nothenberg owned between $20,000
and $200,000 in PG stock.

1995: Environmental and consumer groups sign on to the
“framework” a set of principles to guide utility deregulation in
California. According to members of the groups involved, Cavanagh
did not support the section that said that utilities should be
given “substantially less than” full recovery of stranded costs.

Energy gives a two-year $100,000 grant to the Alliance for
Affordable Energy in New Orleans. It stops funding the group
after the group had to abandon a collaborative approach.

Energy grants the Environmental Action Foundation $75,000 for one
year, but at the same time works with the NRDC to create “Project
for a Sustainable FERC Energy Policy,” a group of organizations
led by an NRDC staffer. “Project” takes a much softer approach to
the private utilities in discussions of electric utility
deregulation at the federal level and undercuts the aggressive
approach of Maryland-based Environmental Action Foundation, which
eventually shuts it doors due to financial problems.

Jan. 17, 1995: The Board of Supervisors votes 7 to 3 to ask Mayor
Frank Jordan to spend $150,000 on a preliminary feasibility
study. Jordan vows to fight the expenditure.

Jan. 18, 1995: The Bay Guardian reports that Republicans in
Washington are aiming to foreclose on the city’s right to operate
and control the Hetch Hetchy dam. The Republicans charge that San
Francisco is violating the Raker Act because none of the Hetch
Hetchy power goes to San Francisco residents (see “Power Loss,”

Jan. 20, 1995: Mayor Frank Jordan, whose reelection campaign will
rely heavily on financial and political support from PG and its
allies, writes a letter to the board indicating his plan to veto
the supervisors’ legislation requiring a feasibility study (see
“Pulling the Plug,” 2/8/95).

Feb. 15 1995: The General Accounting Office in Washington, D.C.,
dismisses City Attorney Renne’s protest of the awarding of the
Presidio contract to PG as “untimely” and upholds the Park
Service’s decision. In essence, the GAO rules that Renne’s office
missed the filing deadline for contract protests.

Feb. 17, 1995: City Controller Ed Harrington releases the first
audit of PG’s franchise-fee payments. In the audit, conducted
only for 1991 through 1993, Harrington finds that PG owes the
city $114,276 for using city streets to deliver electricity and
gas to the Presidio for the period from Jan. 1, 1991, through
Dec. 31, 1993. PG refuses to cooperate, declining to give the
city documents that are key to determining if the utility is
accurately and fairly calculating how much it owes in franchise

The audit also finds that in a random sampling of bills, PG
overcharged local customers by a total of $514,130. On the advice
of the City Attorney’s Office, Harrington refuses to audit PG for
the years prior to 1991 and also fails to go after fees owed on
other military bases, including Hunters Point and Fort Mason,
since 1939. His decision may have kept the city from collecting
millions of dollars. Renne’s office says it has no way of knowing
how much the city is owed for the years 1939 to 1992 (see “Cover
Up?” 2/22/95).

March 20, 1995: In a first real step toward complying with the
Raker Act, the Board of Supervisors votes 8 to 2 to require the
PUC to conduct a $150,000 preliminary feasibility study. The
ordinance includes language stating that if any city officials
try to block the study, they will be guilty of “official
misconduct,” which is grounds for removal from office (see “PG
Loses a Big One,” 2/22/95).

April 5, 1995: The Board of Supervisors unanimously decides to
urge the PUC to sue to overturn the Park Service’s decision to
give the Presidio contract to PG (see “One Forward, Two Back,”

May 24, 1995: Without publicly announcing the move, City Attorney
Louise Renne files suit against PG and the federal government in
an attempt to overturn the Park Service’s multimillion-dollar
giveaway of the Presidio contract. The suit alleges that PG
should have been disqualified because it had designed the system
it then bid on. The city attempts to lay out how the Park Service
rigged the bid for PG. Once again, both daily newspapers black
out the story (see “S.F. Sues Feds, PG” 5/21/95).

May 24, 1995: PG files suit in state court against San Francisco
to block the city’s attempt to collect millions of dollars in
franchise fees the utility owes for delivering power to the
Presidio. Public-power advocates call the suit a “preemptive
strike.” The city countersues in what Harrington says is a way
for the city to collect on franchise fees owed on the Presidio
since 1939. But the City Attorney’s Office never attempts to use
the suit to break the original 1939 franchise, although
public-power advocates contend that PG’s failure to pay franchise
fees on the Presidio is grounds for ending the agreement (see
“Power Offensive,” 5/31/95).

July 5, 1995: The Bay Guardian reports that Jordan has
effectively killed funding for the preliminary feasibility study
by ignoring the PUC’s request for the money until after the
deadline for inclusion in the 1996 budget (see “Jordan Backs PG,”

July 17, 1995: Alioto outfoxes Jordan by replacing $150,000 (to
cover the study) from $375,000 in proposed cuts to the PUC’s

Nov. 22, 1995: The Bay Guardian reports that the PUC, whose
request for proposals did not require bidders to address the
Raker Act, has selected a firm to conduct a preliminary
feasibility that has ties to PG. Strategic Energy Limited’s
manager of Western operations, Phillip Muller, worked for PG for
13 years before resigning only two years ago (see “Fox Guards
Henhouse?” 11/22/95).

Dec. 18, 1995: After the Bay Guardian discloses mistakes in the
scoring of various bidders, the Select Committee on Municipal
Public Power formally asks the civil grand jury to investigate
the irregularities in the bidding process that led to the
selection of Strategic Energy Limited (see “Lights On?”

Dec. 19, 1995: The PUC terminates Strategic Energy Limited’s
contract. Hetch Hetchy general manager Larry Klein admits to
making a “couple errors in judgment”: namely, not telling the
commission that two losing bidders had protested a disputed
scoring process.

January through March 1996: Alioto and public-power advocates
have trouble getting the PUC to set up a technical review
committee for the study that would include citizens interested in
municipalization. In fact, Klein tries to put John Madden, the
city’s chief assistant controller, on the committee. Madden owns
as much as $100,000 worth of PG stock and helped defeat a 1982
campaign for a feasibility study by providing an inflated,
PG-generated figure for the purchase price of the distribution
system. Renne even says at one point that creating such a
committee would violate the city charter. Eventually the PUC
relents, establishes the committee, and allows a representative
of San Franciscans for Municipal Public Power to join it.

April 1, 1996: Alioto asks Renne for a review of the city
attorney’s long-standing position that the city’s dispersal of
Hetch Hetchy electricity is in technical compliance with the
Raker Act. This is a key question: For decades, the City
Attorney’s Office has relied on a series of internal opinions
that effectively trumpet the PG line that the Raker Act doesn’t
require public power in San Francisco. The Supreme Court has
determined otherwise in clear language — but because the city
attorney is the only local official with the authority to enforce
the Raker Act, the pro-PG opinions have been a roadblock (see
“Power Struggle,” 9/22/93). Alioto never gets a new opinion (see
“Alioto’s New PG Salvo,” 4/3/96).

May 6, 1996: The technical review committee (TRC) selects J.W.
Wilson & Associates of Washington, D.C., a firm with 20 years of
experience consulting with municipal systems, to perform the
feasibility study. Wilson had done two feasibility studies — in
Gilbert, Ariz., and Page, Ariz. — that led to successful
municipalizations. Economic and Technical Analysis Group (ETAG),
another bidder whose president said the firm’s members had
performed $1,000 worth of work for PG, was not chosen.

May 28, 1996: Under lobbying pressure from PG, three PUC
commissioners — Victor Makras, Dennis Normandy, and Marion Otsea
— award the contract to ETAG, despite protests by Wilson and
public-power advocates. ETAG discloses to PUC staff that members
of the firm have performed at least $140,000 worth of work for PG
instead of stressing that point, PUC staffer Larry Klein includes
in the packet to the commissioners an article critical of Wilson.
In September PG discloses to the San Francisco Ethics Commission
that Sam Lauter and Larry Simi discussed the choice of contractor
with those three commissioners during that time (see “The Big
Fix,” 6/5/96, and “The Trouble with ETAG,” 10/16/96).

June 7, 1996:The Thoreau Center, including the Energy
FoundationÕs offices, open at the Presidio.

June 10, 1996: The Board of Supervisors unanimously passes a
resolution urging Mayor Willie Brown to urge the PUC to terminate
the contract with ETAG and award the contract to Wilson. Brown
takes no action on the resolution, thereby making it official
board policy. The PUC ignores the legislation.

June 25, 1996: After discussing the matter in closed session, the
PUC reconfirms its selection of ETAG. Commissioners do not
formally respond to protests made by Wilson and San Franciscans
for Municipal Public Power’s Joel Ventresca, a member of the
technical review committee.

June 30, 1996: The civil grand jury issues its annual
investigative reports but makes no mention of Alioto’s request
for an investigation of the PUC. However, the Bay Guardian later
learns that a strong report critical of the close relationship
between PG and the PUC was not released by the grand jury (see
“The Shame of San Francisco,” page 14).

July 24, 1996: The Bay Guardian reports that of the three members
of the eight-member TRC that did not choose Wilson, Klein gave
Wilson the lowest score. He gave ETAG high marks. The Bay
Guardian had to threaten legal action to get the scoring sheets
disclosed (see “Turning on the Lights,” 7/24/96).

Mid-August to October 1996: Klein informs Alioto that delivery of
the preliminary feasibility study will be delayed until Jan. 15,
1997, about one week after Alioto will be forced by term limits
to leave office. Klein says delays in the selection process, due
to the protest of ETAG’s selection, made it impossible for the
firm to meet the deadline. Klein’s move is illegal, as the Board
of Supervisors must approve any changes to the ordinance, which
requires delivery of the study by Oct. 30, 1996.

September, 1996:Governor Pete Wilson signs California Assembly
bill AB1890 – which deregulates the electric utility industry on
January 1, 1998, and allows utilities to fully recover the cost
of money lost in power plant development from ratepayers. The
NRDC, the first environmental group to sign on, supports the
move. Declaring it a consumer rip-off, CALPIRG protests the
passage of the bill. franchise-fee payments for 1994 and 1995. He
finds that PG owes the city $18,218 for using city streets to
deliver electricity and gas to the Presidio for the period from
Jan. 1, 1994, to Sept. 30, 1994. (PG started remitting
franchise-fee payments for the Presidio Oct. 1, 1994.)

Sept. 24, 1996: City Controller Ed Harrington releases an audit
of PG franchise-fee payments for 1994 and 1995. He finds that PG
owes the city $18,218 for using city streets to deliver
electricity and gas to the Presidio for the period from Jan. 1,
1994, to Sept. 30, 1994. (PG started remitting franchise-fee
payments for the Presidio Oct. 1, 1994.)

Sept. 26, 1996: At a select committee meeting, Alioto makes
another attempt to raise the yearly fees that PG pays for the
right to transmit gas and electricity across city property. She
proposes to raise the fee from 1 percent to 4 percent for natural
gas and from 0.5 percent to 2 percent for electricity. The City
Attorney’s Office maintains that the franchise agreement cannot
be changed.

Oct. 16, 1996: The Bay Guardian publishes “The Trouble with
ETAG,” which reveals that the firm had never completed a
municipalization study. That means the company failed to meet a
key requirement for winning the contract. The firm also
misrepresented the credentials of one of its key members and
claimed falsely to have worked for TURN (The Utility Reform
Network, a consumer-advocacy group). In addition, ETAG president
Ronald Knecht gave a pro-PG deposition during a municipalization
battle between the investor-owned utility and the Sacramento
Municipal Utility District (SMUD) in 1988. Knecht valued PG
facilities at more than three times what SMUD and PG eventually
agreed on. ETAG’s study is released Oct. 11, and public-power
advocates find it biased against municipalization. The study
finds that municipalization will only bring a 0 to 5 percent
savings in rates.

Mid-October to mid-November 1996: Three members of the TRC —
Eugene Coyle (senior economist with TURN), Robert Lehman (San
Franciscans for Tax Justice), and Joel Ventresca — slam the ETAG
study, finding that it is pro-PG and that it downplays the
advantages of public power. In addition, the American Public
Power Association sharply criticizes the report and says it
misses the key advantages of municipalization — namely, more
local control, lower costs of operation, and lower rates.

Oct. 25, 1996: Judge Vaughn Walker decides the Presidio case in
favor of the federal government and PG. The order is filed under
seal, and the city does not object. By losing the case, the city
loses a $50 million contract and a chance for a public-power

Nov. 27, 1996: The Bay Guardian reveals that the Presidio case is
lost and threatens legal action to make the decision public.
Walker rejects all of the city’s arguments. The city fails to
raise the issue of the Raker Act. After the Bay Guardian and
Alioto begin making inquiries about the case, the city attorney
appeals (see “Lights Out,” 11/27/96).

Nov. 27, 1996: The select committee votes to call for a full
feasibility study. Meanwhile, the Bay Guardian reveals that
numerous community organizations — such as the Mission
Neighborhood Center and Kimochi — receiving money from PG have
written to supervisors asking that a full feasibility study be
killed (see “Lights Back On?” 12/4/96).

Dec. 11, 1996: Under pressure from PG, the budget committee’s
Barbara Kaufman and Tom Hsieh table Alioto’s feasibility study.
The move is unusual; it means that Alioto, the legislation’s
sponsor, cannot vote on the issue because under term limits she
will be out of office. Alioto vows to take the study out of
committee and put it to the full board for a vote. “For shame,”
Alioto says to Kaufman and Hsieh (see “PG’s Supervisors,”

Jan. 1, 1997: After Walker’s judgment is opened to the public,
the Bay Guardian reports the key reason for the loss: Renne
failed to file the protest on time (see “Presidio Power Outage,”

Jan. 6, 1997: Alioto’s last day in office. She brings the
feasibility study up for a full vote Jan. 13 (see “Kicking and
Screaming,” 1/8/97).

Jan. 8, 1997: Newly minted president Barbara Kaufman kills the
Select Committee on Municipal Public Power.

Jan. 13, 1997: Supervisors kill Alioto’s feasibility study by an
8 to 2 vote. Leslie Katz, Jose Medina, and Leland Yee all break
campaign pledges to the Bay Guardian to support the feasibility
study and vote against the ordinance. Also voting for PG are
Supervisors Amos Brown, Barbara Kaufman, Susan Leal, Mabel Teng,
and Michael Yaki. Only Supervisors Tom Ammiano and Sue Bierman
vote in favor (see “Power Drain,” 1/15/97).

Jan. 29, 1997: Public-power advocates mount a campaign to defeat
Louise Renne in the 1997 election so that a city attorney willing
to enforce the Raker Act can be elected. In addition, Ventresca
prepares to file a complaint with the Ethics Commission over
ETAG’s shoddy report and the PUC’s refusal to select the firm
recommended by its technical review committee. The Bay Guardian
submits the entire scandal to the grand jury. Public-power
advocates also plan to put a measure on the 1997 ballot calling
for either the enforcement of the Raker Act or a complete
feasibility study. Alioto plans to publish a book later this
spring dealing with city corruption and based on Dante’s Inferno.
The title is Straight to the Heart. One whole chapter — and one
whole level of hell — will be devoted to the PG scandal.

June 19, 1997: In the first time PG is brought up on criminal
charges, a Nevada county jury finds PG guilty of criminal
negligence which lead to the 1994 Rough and Ready fire. The fire,
which wiped out 500 acres of land and burned 12 homes, was caused
by overgrown tree limbs touching high voltage power lines. The
Utility company is responsible for keeping the tree limbs at a
safe distance from the power lines. Amoung the extensive paper
trail showing The company’s understanding of the problem prior to
the fire were studies authorized in 1987,1991,1992, and 1995
documenting the severe backlog of trees needing to be trimmed.
Nevada county deputy District Attorney Jenny Ross presented
evidence that despite several supervisors complaining about a
backlog of tree-trimming and insufficient funds to do the work,
PG diverted 80 million dollars in money collected from consumers
from its tree-trimming budget to company profit. The jury who’s
foreman said they wanted to send a message that the company “must
change the way top management makes its decisions,” found PG
guilty of 739 out of 743 criminal charges that were filed against
the company. The utility is now a convicted criminal. State
regulators and a federal court fine the company for issues
related to failure to trim trees away from power lines.

July 21, 1997:The Board of Supervisors votes to settle the city’s
Presidio power suit against PG for $132,494. The settlement
forgives PG’s illegal use of city property to deliver power to
the Presidio and forfeits tens of millions of dollars in
franchise-fee and penalty payments the utility owes the city. Not
one of the dozens of activists and environmental groups out at
the Presidio, or funded by foundations based at the Presidio,
utters a peep of protest.

August 7, 1997:California Senate bill 477, which implements the
issuance of customer-backed bonds to pay off the private
utilities’ lost investments in nuclear power plants, is passed.
Once again, NRDC provides key support. scandal.


How PG&E robs San Francisco of Cheap Power

by J.B. Neilands

March 22, 1969

San Francisco Bay Guardian

Excerpt from the original (reprint October 6, 1982)

A few months before he died last year, Franck Havenner sat in his 
bed in a nursing home in San Francisco and told me of how the 
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. swindled San Francisco out of hundreds 
of millions of dollars of cheap hydroelectric power.

The story was incredible:  PG&E and ts political allies had 
defeated eight successive bond issues to establish a municipal 
electric system in San Francisco and grant city residents and 
businesses the benefit of low cost power produced by the city's 
Hetch Hetchy water system in the Sierras.

The result: San Francisco has paid through the nose to PG&E for 
its power and the city loses about $30 million a year in profits 
it would get from a public system.

Havenner, a longtime SF supervisor and later a U.S. 
representative, said: "In the beginning, we had the support of 
some newspapers but in the end the PG&E was able to buy them all 
out with their newspaper ads."

The PG&E/newspaper/political combination got stronger with each 
bond issue.  Today, you never hear about the city's sacred 
pledges to build a public power system.

How could this happen?  How could Sacramento, Los Angeles, Palo 
Alto and a dozen other California cities get their own lucrative 
electric distribution systems when SF couldn't even get one when 
it had its own power?  More:  How could this happen when it is a 
specific condition of federal law for San Francisco, unlike any 
other American city, to build its own municipal electric 
distribution system?

Abe Ruef's graft was peanuts, birdseed, compared to this.


The story goes back to the turn of the century when San Francisco 
desperately needed an adequate water supply.  Fifteen alternate 
sites were crossed off before Mayor Phelan filed for water rights 
on the Tuolumne River with money from his own pocket.

Unfortunately, however, the site lay inside Yosemite National 
Park and the proposed dam would flood exquisite Hetch Hetchy 

Conservationists were furious and John Muir raged: "Dam Hetch 
Hetchy!  As well dam for water tanks the people's cathedrals and 
churches; for no holier temple has ever been consecrated to the 
heart of man."  Understandably, Congress was reluctant to grant 
the brutal intrusion into Yosemite.

The impasse was resolved by Rep. John Edward Raker, from the 
state's second (mountain) district.  He proposed to let San 
Francisco take the water from Yosemite, but in the process 
generate and distribute low-cost hydroelectric power.

It was the only federal grant of its kind ever made by Congress 
and it is certain, as Interior Secretary Harold Ickes later 
emphasized, that it would never have been made without crucial 
conditions:  that both water and power go directly to consumers 
and that no profits whatsoever from this unprecedented public 
grant to to private utilities.

The act's language was explicit and there was no doubt, among 
supporters or opponents, about the public power intent of 
Congress.  Thus on the floor debate: 

"Mr. Sumners:  Is it the purpose of this bill to have San 
Francisco supply electric power and water to its own people?

"Mr. Raker:  Yes.

"Mr. Sumners: Or to supply these corporations, which will in turn 
supply the people?

"Mr. Raker: Under this bill, it is to supply its own inhabitants 

Muir and other militant conservationists were bitterly 
disappointed by the Raker Act and the loss of Hetch Hetchy, but 
other conservationists, like Sen. George Norris of Nebraska, 
considered it a reasonable compromise.

The Raker Act was the Magna Carta for cheap public power.  It was 
thought to be tightly drawn in the public interest and virtually 
impervious to subversion by private power trusts.  Its basic 
intent was to establish a municipal power distribution system in 
San Francisco, but it also allowed the sale of power to public 
agencies and recognized the prior claims of the nearby Turlock 
and Modesto Irrigation Districts.

However, the act stipulated, in strict terms especially 
irritating to the private power lobby, that any attempt to 
transfer the water or power to a "person, corporation or 
association" for resale could result in revocation of the federal 


In developing water, San Francisco has observed reasonable 
compliance with the Raker Act on the record.  It has had little 
trouble passing expensive water bond issues to construct the 
enormous Hetch Hetchy system of pipes and tunnels that delivers 
the water across the Central Valley, under San Francisco Bay and 
into the Peninsula's Crystal Springs Reservoir.  There's been no 
reluctance to "go into the water business" in San Francisco.

In developing power, however, San Francisco has gone up against 
fortress PG&E and has failed miserably in complying with the 
Raker Act.  Ickes was here on Oct. 24, 1934 for the celebration 
of the first flow of Hetch Hetchy water to reach Crystal  
Springs.  He mused in his diary:

"San Francisco also develops power from this water... 
Unfortunately, private utilities have such a grip on San 
Francisco that it cannot actually sell its own power to users in 
San Francisco.  I held there was a violation of the Act... the 
newspapers and most of the politicians have seen to it, by 
propaganda and other devious methods, that a method of complying 
with the Act has been defeated."

Norris lamented in his biography that, as a supporter of the 
Raker Act, he had "underestimated the resourcefulness" of PG&E.  
"When I spoke so hopefully and so confidently (not only  but many 
others) it was incredible that a great utility could control the 
policies of city government in San Francisco... to defeat the 
original spirit and purpose of Hetch Hetchy.  But it has done all 

PG&E moved in early and has prevented the full public development 
of Hetch Hetchy power to this day.  Hetch Hetchy's first small 
hydroelectric generator, Early Intake Powerhouse, went on the line 
in 1918.  It was immediately connected to the Sierra and San 
Francisco Power Co. (later merged into PG&E).  Interior declared 
the accord illegal on June 8, 1923, but nothing was pressed since 
only a small amount of power was involved.

With the completion of Moccasin Powerhouse in 1925, a substantial 
power became available; to bring the energy to San Francisco as 
required by the Raker Act, the city began laying a steel tower 
transmission circuit in the direction of San Francisco. It was 
strung all the way to Newark, some 99 miles, but was stopped 
abruptly at Newark on the east shore of San Francisco, Bay.  
Here, conveniently, PG&E had a substation and here, conveniently 
and in obvious anticipation of a new energy load, PG&E had just 
laid a trans-Bay, high voltage cable to span the remaining 35 
miles to San Francisco.

Although the city had purchased enough copper wire to complete 
the Hetch Hetchy line, word suddenly rocketed from city hall that 
further construction funds were exhausted.  San Francisco's two 
power companies, Great Western and PG&E refused to sell their 
systems to the city, and the board, instead of using eminent 
domain to acquire them, approved a contract on July 1, 1925 to 
hand over Hetch Hetchy power to PG&E at Newark.  The copper wire 
was stored quietly in an SF warehouse and 10 years later sold for 

1925 collage Hetch-warning

It was a sellout worthy of chronicling by Lincoln Steffens and 
Frank Norris.  The city produces the power, but PG&E grabs it for 
wholesale, then wheels it into the city at exorbitant retail 
rates.  As the San Francisco then observed:

"It is a wrongful and shameful policy for a grant of water and 
power privilege in the Yosemite National Park Area to be 
developed at the expenditure of $50 million by the taxpayers of 
San Francisco, only to have its greatest financial and economic 
asset, the hydro-electric power, diverted to private corporation 
hands at the instant of completion; to the great benefit of said 
private corporation, and at an annual deficit to the city of San 

In the 1927 city election, every incumbent supervisor was 
defeated who voted for the 1925 contract and presided over the 
establishment of PG&E's tollgate at Newark.  The people wanted 
public power and the new board determined the should bond itself 
in whatever amount necessary to buy out PG&E and get it.

The first $2 million bond issue in 1925 fell before a powerful 
PG&E onslaught, but it still got 52,216 for, f0,727 against 
(two-thirds needed for passage).  In all from 1925 to 1941, 
PG&E's enormous political influence defeated eight bond 
propositions to buy all or part of PG&E distribution properties.

To defeat the bonds, Havenner told a congressional committee in 
1942, PG&E had spent at least $200,000 in the previous ten years;  
Ickes broke the amount down further:  $11,876 in 1935; $25,330 in 
1937; $59,755 in 1939 and much, much more in 1941.  It now spends 
hundreds of thousands each year in political and charitable 

PG&E's strategy, Ickes testified, was to "spread throughout the 
city the word that the Raker Act could be easily amended" and to 
confuse the issue by saying the city "had been discriminated 
against"  by the act.

PG&E laid it on thick in an expensive series of seven ads in the 
daily press;  the press responded by repeating and embellishing 
the PG&E line.  The Chronicle, for example, ran nasty cartoons 
and editorial comments implying this was all a city hall power 
grab:  "If the city hall were not so busy trying to aggrandize 
itself by clutching more business to muddle with..."


(PG&E maintained close connections with most newspaper 
managements, but Chronicle/PG&E connections have for decades been 
intimate through family relationships, notably the Tobin and de 
Youn dynasties.  Joseph O. Tobin, who became a Chronicle owner by 
marrying Mike de Young's daughter, Constance, is a nephew of 
Joseph S. Tobin, a onetime PG&E director.  The Tobins live in 
Hillsborough and have long been associated with the Hibernia 
Bank.  Mike de Young and his brother founded the Chronicle.)

His patience exhausted Ickes meanwhile filed suit in federal court 
to throw out the PG&E's phoney 1927 contract.  The case ultimately 
went to the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled, on April 22 1940, 
that San Francisco had been illegally disposing Hetch Hetchy 
power to PG&E for the past 15 years. 

More:  That the act required a "publicly owned and operated power 
system" in San Francisco.

It is difficult, almost impossible I found, to determine how long 
this illegal sale continued, how much city city users were 
overcharged and what is the city's current legal status.  It 
appears to me, after months of research, that the city is still 
under a federal court injunction.

A significant sidelight is the-Rep. Clair Engle's investigation 
in 1955 into another diversion of Hetch Hetchy power to PG&E.  
Engle's biting cross-examination of public officials and his 
ability to disentangle complicated issues proved conclusively 
that San Francisco was allowing irrigation districts to serve as 
a conduit to transfer Hetch Hetchy power to PG&E.

Engle quoted figures compiled by the Federal Power Commission 
showing that 24.7% of the power purchased by Modesto and Turlock 
"is currently and for a period from 1945 to 1953" was sold to 
PG&E.  Forty-eight percent of this total was Hetch Hetchy power, 
the FPC said.

Engle asked the American Law Division of the Library of Congress 
to research this point.  It advised him on May 22, 1956, that SF 
had sold dump power to PG&E since 1945 and by letter agreement had 
extended the arrangement into 1962.  It also said that SF had 
been selling power to Modesto and Turlock, which at the same time 
were furnishing PG&E about the same amount they were buying from 
the city.  M and T have plenty of power through their own 
generating plants at Don Pedro and La Grange.

To determine if this unlawful transfer of pwer continues, the 
following data is required: (1) hourly production by district 
generating plants; (2) simultaneous receipt by the districts from 
Hetch Hetchy; (3) simultaneous delivery from the districts to 
PG&E.  The Interior Department has refused repeated requests for 
this public information.

We are left with a significant remark in the Modesto District's 
1967-68 annual report:  "These once bitter enemies, the irrigation 
districts and San Francisco, work in close harmony toward the 
full economic development of the water and power resources of the 
Tuolumne River watershed."

As a result of PG&E's influence, Hetch Hetchy's formidable power 
output is dribbled away in a fragmented pattern that brings 
relatively little revenue to the city.  Besides the irrigation 
districts, power is sold to several low-paying San Francisco 
industrial consumers, which are served by PG&E lines from Newark 
and Warnerville substations.  The city pays for transmission 
charges, including losses.  

City power is wheeled into San Francisco on PG&E toll lines and 
the company until recently levied an outrageous toll.  (PG&E buys 
Hetch Hetchy power at Newark for $2 million, then resells it to 
SF consumers for $9 million, congressional testimony showed in 
1941.  Total Over-charge: $6,600,000.  Multiply these totals year 
by year and you begin to get the dimensions of this steal from 
the city treasury.)

Hetch Hetchy power goes to the airport, Muni and street lights.  
Everything else, notably the lucrative, tightly packed retail 
market that forms the base of PG&E's empire, is served by PG&E.

Since Interior Secretary Harold Ickes two decades ago, the 
Interior Department has been notoriously lax in pushing San 
Francisco to enforce the Raker Act.  James Carr stepped out of 
this don't-ruffle-PG&E atmosphere in Interior to become San 
Francisco's general utilities manager.  He has kept PG&E's 
monopoly intact, untroubled and unquestioned in San Francisco.

I asked Carr, shortly after he took office in 1964, when the city 
would enforce the Raker Act.  Carr replied in a letter, 51 years 
after the Raker passed as the Magna Carta of public power, that 
it was "premature to discuss municipal distribution of power in 
San Francisco."  In March, 1969, it still is.


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