PG&E-backed Proposition 16 goes down to defeat

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A ballot measure that would limit the ability of local government to get into the electricity business appears to be going down to defeat.

One company backed the initiative. Investor-owned utility Pacific Gas and Electric has fought insurgent efforts to create what are called "community choice aggregations" – groups that don't buy their own poles and lines, but do decide what energy to deliver on existing ones.

PG&E's parent corporation spent more than $46 million to make it much harder for those groups to get started. Opponents to the measure raised just over $100,000.

This last century California's seen ugly wars about public power. The battlefield for this one is Northern California, where public power efforts continue.

Fearing prop 16 would pass, San Francisco scrambled even on election day to finish meeting state requirements to establish its own electricity service. PG&E and the Yes on 16 campaign maintain voters should weigh on local agencies' entry into energy markets.