The latest revelations in the Portland General Electric tax scam are certainly... well, revealing. Now it turns out that PGE collected from ratepayers millions of dollars of Multnomah County taxes that weren't paid to the county -- indeed, they apparently weren't even passed on to PGE's parent company, Enron. According to Willamette Week and City Commissioner Randy Leonard, PGE just kept that money, along with some other types of "taxes" that it charged customers for as well.
A few suggestions here. First, since the city is said to have the power to set electricity rates within its borders, Leonard ought to have someone prepare an ordinance whereby ratepayers in the city get credit for all state and local taxes that the state PUC allows to be billed but unpaid. Pass it now, and see what happens.
Another avenue of attack: The county ought to pass an ordinance that says that PGE's (or its corporate parent's) county taxes are what it normally would owe the county (apparently, nothing, under current rules), or the amount of county taxes that it collects from its customers, whichever is greater. If PGE collects, it has to pay. There's another one you could pass next week.
Finally, the city ought to be readying another PUD campaign, along the lines that I've suggested here previously. I've never been a fan of the many PUD measures put up by the usual hippie suspects, but if it were done right, I could vote for public power. On this one, unlike so many issues in Portland, I'll take socialism over corruption.
Of course, all these moves would also impact Pacific Power, which is about to be taken over by Warren Buffett. They haven't been such bad apples, but it appears they're in a barrel with a wormy one.
Be prepared, of course, to see PGE (and maybe even Pacific Power) move its headquarters out of downtown. PGE's probably already planning to do that. Perhaps they could locate out by the new Trib offices, or take up the space in Hillsboro that OHSU threatened to run to if we didn't build it an aerial tram [rim shot]. Heck, Dave Lister may even have a spot for PGE near his new place out by Mattress World.