Dennis Kucinich and Joe Dobner: The Fight For Public Power De-privatizing Public Utilities

Two counties in Washington State are engaged in a struggle to convert their private, for-profit energy utilities into public utilities that would provide cleaner energy, safer infrastructure and be accountable to the people. Residents in East King County are fed up with Puget Sound Energy, which provides the dirtiest energy in the state and is deeply invested in deadly fossil fuels. Native tribes and residents have united in a fight to stop the construction of PSE’s liquid natural gas plant in Tacoma and dangerous coal trains traveling from Montana coalfields. Many people in this area are doing their part by buying electric cars, but when 56% of their energy comes from coal, it defeats the purpose. Meanwhile, the publicly owned utilities in the state provide clean, renewable energy and better service. 

Dennis Kucinich, the former mayor, congressman and presidential candidate visited Washington to support and advise activists on how to establish their own Public Utility District. They are organizing an initiative campaign that will take investment firms that put profit over climate and the public interest out of the loop. Dennis Kucinich fought successfully to save Cleveland’s public municipal electrical utility when he was the young mayor in the late 70’s. He stood firm against the big banks, which threatened to cut off credit and bankrupt the city if he blocked the sale. The ratepayers responded by organizing an initiative campaign that stopped the privatization and the banks duly bankrupted Cleveland. A little known fact is that Kucinich survived two assassination attempts.

The fight to wrest back control of energy is not going to be easy. Kucinich noted that PSE reports making between 6.5 to 10 percent returns on their investments. “ Public utilities are cash cows. In this case, you’re the ones getting milked,” he quipped. Kucinich estimated that over the course of about 15 years, preserving Cleveland's public utility saved Cleveland hundreds of millions of dollars.

Join us and learn how we can win. 

Thanks to East King Co. Public Utility District campaign & Bibi Restaurant. Recorded 2/5/20

Program Details
Topics Pse, Pud, De-privatizing
Episode S9E8
Broadcast Week Mar 2nd 2020
Duration 00:00:00
Audience Rating TV-G
Genre Action
Theme Academic & Education
Language English
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