December 6, 2019

People’s Power: Turning Energy Companies into Public Utilities

New Economies Reporting Project Briefing #2 - December 5, 2019


eli [at] or jeremy [at]

The recent fires—and concomitant blackouts—in California have underscored the negative impacts of private power companies that are run for profit first, rather than the provision of safe, renewable energy. This briefing call, held under the auspices of the New Economies Reporting Project, will examine what it would take to return the ownership and control of power companies like PG&E back to state or city governments and/or democratically run cooperatives. Specifically, our speakers will look at how local governments are approaching the demand to transition from private to public, including the political, financial, and regulatory challenges. Speakers will draw on examples of power companies that have remunicipalized, or converted from private to public or cooperative models.

Watch Recording Here


Mari Rose Taruc, Coordinator, California Utility Justice Campaign
For 25 years, she has organized environmental justice (EJ) campaigns for clean air, affordable housing, renewable energy and climate solutions in local, state, national and international arenas. She has coordinated important EJ formations under the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (SNEEJ), Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) and California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA).

Steve Catanach, Director of Climate Initiatives, City of Boulder
Prior to joining the city, Steve was a consultant supporting the city’s Energy Future team and worked as an electrical engineer for more than 33 years, 31 of those years in the electric utility industry. Prior to becoming a consultant, he served as the Light and Power Operations Manager for the City of Fort Collins. During his career, Steve also worked for the City of Longmont; the City of Las Cruces, New Mexico; and the Arizona Public Service Corporation, the largest electric utility in Arizona.

Ursula Schryver, VP of Education & Customer Programs, American Public Power Association
Ursula oversees the American Public Power Association’s programs for members in workforce issues and customer service development. Ursula consults with communities seeking to introduce public power and with public power communities protecting against privatization of their electric utilities. She has been with the Association for 20 years and holds an MBA from George Washington University.

Jake Schlachter, Executive Director of We Own It
Jake is the founder and executive director of We Own It, a start-up nonprofit that is building a new national network for cooperative member-owner rights, education, and organizing.  Jake left a promising early career in corporate computer security software development in 2008 to practice organizing full time and follow his parents, both Episcopal priests, in a vocation of holy hellraising.  Local community organizing led him first to elections integrity issues and then to cooperative business and the national food co-op movement in 2011. In his previous role with Food Co-op Initiative, he trained and coached new organizers starting up food cooperative organizing campaigns.