Two opportunities to help people keep government from taking their money

SFist reports ( that the city government is holding about $600,000 in overpaid and duplicate fines. Here is a list of people who overpaid and are owed refunds:

  Perhaps you or someone you know is owed money? It occurs to me that it would be great if we could cross-reference the list of registered Libertarians and LPSF members and supporters, and find out whether any of them are owed money. We could then get in touch with the individuals and let them know the city has their money, and will keep it unless they act soon. Another less ambitious approach would be to try to contact the people on the list (Libertarian or not) who are owed the most money. Does anyone here have the database-parsing skills to automate either process to enable it to be done in a time-efficient manner?

  * * *

  Another even bigger opportunity along similar lines is coming up. You may have heard that the SF city government plans to implement "municipal power". Basically they are planning to switch PG&E customers without their consent, to start getting their energy from the city government instead, which will cost them more money. So far, according to this article from last year –– only 7,400 customers in SF were enrolled as of June 2016, and they were waiting on more electricity capacity before enrolling more, but the opt-out rate had been very low, only around 1%. That suggests a great opportunity for the LPSF to help people save money*, while keeping revenues away from the State, by spreading the word a about this scheme and telling people how they can opt out.

  You can opt out here, by entering your name, PG&E account number, and zip code:

  You may get a message, as I did, telling you that "Your account is not eligible to opt out." However they are reportedly switching people in batches, so it's likely you are getting this message simply because your batch hasn't come up yet. Thus it's a good idea to check the site again periodically. Especially if you notice anything in your PG&E bill that indicates you have been or are about to be switched. Unless of course you want to pay higher rates and have your money going to the city government, for allegedly "cleaner" energy!

Love & Liberty,
                                ((( starchild )))

*I'm not sure how much the savings amount to, but I'm pretty sure the city-run plan costs slightly more. You may also wind up being charged a fee for leaving PG&E (according to the above linked article, "State regulators allow the utilities to levy a charge on departing CCA customers to compensate them for the cost of the power that the utilities had already purchased to serve anticipated load").

But perhaps the biggest cost increase threat is long-term, and could affect people regardless of whether they allow themselves to be switched to the municipal plan now or not: If enough people switch to drive PG&E out of the market, the city plan will have a monopoly and potentially be able to raise rates on a captive market. A similar phenomenon happened before – in the early 20th century, the city government established the SF Muncipal Railway, now known simply as Muni. Muni drove out the remaining competing independent rail lines in San Francisco with competitive, taxpayer-subsidized rates, and then started jacking up those rates after their independent competitors were gone.