Liccardo: Bills Too Damn High

Bay Area residents got a shock with the hike in their January energy bills.  Those rates will increase—again—in April.

These rising energy bills follow higher bills for insurance, food, water and medicine – not to mention the already-punishing cost of rent or a mortgage.  The bills are just too damn high.

Contrary to the belief of some, these higher bills aren’t simply the result of some generalized “inflation,” which declined sharply in recent months.  Rather, specific policy choices got us to this place—and it’s long past time for relief for millions of American families.

Congress must act. Yet our dysfunctional political system discourages elected officials from working together to get things done, and we must overcome the campaign spending and political power of big corporations to win this fight for hard-pressed families.  As Mayor of San José, I was able to bring people together in the fight for fairer energy and water bills, to reduce $3 billion in taxpayer burdens for public liabilities, to create more middle-income housing, and to stand up to big corporations that now spend heavily against me in this congressional race.

In Congress there are common-sense solutions that our leaders can unite behind—because they matter so much to our families.

Let’s start with those punishing energy bills.  In San José, we gave one million residents the option of lower-cost, cleaner energy through a successful “community choice energy” program.  Despite poor recent decisions of California regulators that discourage solar adoption, we can still dramatically reduce energy costs by embracing rooftop solar, and we can mitigate against blackouts with home battery storage. Congress can empower homeowners and small business owners to finance the cost of solar, storage, and energy-efficient improvements that can reduce bills immediately.

My proposal for a Resilience Savings Plan—which you can read about here - can lower both energy bills and insurance premiums.  It improves a financing approach deployed in some communities, known as “property assessed clean energy” (or PACE) programs, by enabling more residents to invest in cost-saving retrofits like solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, and batteries, as well as ways to “harden” homes against fire threats and flooding.  By deploying financing approaches routinely used by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae to help home buyers, we can reduce the interest costs of traditional PACE programs.  We can also make PACE much safer by mandating uniform disclosures, consumer protections, and enforcement by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  By leaning in, Congress can unlock insurance and energy cost savings for our families, make our homes more resilient to wildfires and storms, and deliver climate benefits with more widespread adoption of clean energy.

Painfully high mortgages and rents won’t get any better in the Bay Area with this year’s halt in new housing development.  Congress can help by deploying tax credits to incentivize private investment in converting empty office, hotel, and retail space in our downtowns to housing – unlocking tens of thousands of new units in our region alone. We can boost the inventory of homes for sale by doubling the capital gains exemption on the sale of existing homes.  This will liberate older homeowners feeling “trapped” by the steep tax on the sale of their older homes, and it will enable younger families access to a supply of less expensive older homes.

At the pharmacy we can lower drug prices with Congressional action by mandating pricing transparency among pharmacy benefit managers (PBM’s), who extract high returns that drive up costs to patients and their insurers.  We can also pass a bi-partisan bill to target price gouging, and working to substantially reduce bloated administrative costs and billing fraud throughout the health care system by enacting long-overdue uniform coding processes.

At our grocery stores we can help lower food prices in numerous ways, starting with ending the federal program that uses our tax dollars to promote turning food into fuel, a questionable practice that does not improve our climate but does raise our food prices.  We need Congressional antitrust oversight on the monopoly power of major corporate grocers - two of which control nearly half the national market - to stand up for consumers.

I’ve described all of these ideas, and more, in a book, “Let’s Get it Done,” that’s free to read, because voters deserve to know what specific solutions Congressional candidates are willing to stand for, and more importantly, Americans deserve to see a do-nothing Congress get something done.

Republicans and Democrats agree that the bills are just too damn high, because we’re all paying them.  It’s time Congress does more to address rising costs. Let’s get it done.

Sam Liccardo was mayor of San Jose 2015 to 2023. He is a Democratic candidate for the 16th Congressional District.

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  1. 🤮 The only thing Sam Liccardo did was make it more expensive to live in San Jose by raising taxes, including real estate transfer taxes. SJCE doesn’t save anyone on their energy bills and it automatically mandated everyone into the program without our permission. He didn’t lift a finger to help reduce or at least restrain our water rates and mandating more housing will only serve to increase utility bills with additional surcharges to buy more water from outside resources and increase taxes. We pay the highest utility bills in the nation. Why? Your book needs a rewrite.

  2. This is a typical case of a politician using a lot of words without saying anything. “Plans” sound good, but as a mayor, Liccardo made plenty of claims about what he was doing about homelessness, crime, and rising costs, while there are more people living in vans on my street, crime is rampant, and many of us are looking to leave the area. Liccardo has a proven track record of failure and a lack of intelligence. As an environmentalist, I can say he knows nothing about how to address climate (food isn’t the main problem). He’s trying to pull at your purse strings here. Don’t buy into the nonsense. Don’t vote for Liccardo.

  3. In the past 10 years, State government has done nothing substantial to rein in PG&E, and the CPUC has forgotten that they should be looking out for The Public, allowing the utilities to gouge hostage customers. Between 2014-2023 there has been an increase of 90% (!!) in PG&E. In Jan.2024 gas and electric went up 13% with an additional 7.2% proposed increase in April for electric. All while PG&E now reports a $2 BILLION profit and their CEO makes $50 million, while leaving households in the cold too afraid to turn on their heat! And also while the State mandates full conversion to everything electric, with no consideration for grandfathering in seniors and lower income households who simply cannot afford to change out their gas appliances. Is the State willing to give a cash payout of $15,000 per household to allow seniors in 100-yr old houses to upgrade their panels to accommodate all this new electric?? I didn’t think so! I support programs that protect our environment but these all-or-nothing approaches will leave too many vulnerable people holding the bag once again.

    And when is government going to stop using homeowners as their cash cows for all their budget shortcomings? All these additional add-on property taxes (fees, assessments, bonds, or any other name) are making homes incredibly expensive.

  4. I’ve never seen so much BS in one article. Liccardo left San Jose a disaster.

    SJCE was created as an alternative to PGE. Charging 1% less than PGE for basic service (more than PGE if you want to feel good about going green). So saving folks .01 for every dollar really isn’t much to brag about. Especially when you are being compared to corporation that generates billions in profit, so how come you can only be 1% lower (or more the PGE). It’s really just a huge slush fund for the city of San Jose, and did little to save anything significant. Wonder how they get all their grants to give away for green-energy? Pulled right from SJCE’s surplus.

    I invested in solar panels for my retirement house (not in California). For the cost, it will take 18 – 20 years to recover the expense based on the annual bill savings. Now that might be much quicker in San Jose, since the cost of electricity is about 4 times higher than in the neighboring state. I financed around 2%, can’t even dream about doing that now. Most people cannot afford the cost for the incredibly slow return.

    How does bio fuel explain the high-cost of everything at the grocery store? You think because some corn got turned into ethanol, the price of meats, fruits and dairy all skyrocketed? No, it’s bad economic policy and out of control inflation, driven by out of control spending at the federal, state and city level.

    Please come back and post about homeless and crime in San Jose. Would love to hear how you spin those.

  5. Hey, Sam, here are some alternative solutions that may be more effective.
    Let’s reduce inflation by breaking up the monopolies whose over-pricing and record-breaking profits are responsible for a full half of our inflation rate.
    Let’s reduce housing and rental prices by taxing out-of-state investors that are sucking money out of the local economy and driving up prices.
    Let’s reduce CO2 emissions from the transportation sector (where the majority of local emissions originate) by re-directing some of the $12B planned for the 4-station BART Burrow to an 800-station Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) network serving 100 square-miles with 24/7 on-demand service.
    Learn more about PRT at

  6. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

    Liccardo was a DISASTER as mayor for the city. He raised taxes, then this ridiculous SJCE debacle was created which save absolutley NOTHING from our energy bills. He decimated our police department, and property crime went through the roof….which also raised insurance premiums.

    Please feel free to voice your concerns to him on Twitter/X under his account: @sliccardo. But be forewarned, he’ll BLOCK you if you say anything he doesn’t like. So much for first amendment, right?

  7. I ran against Liccardo in 2006. Penned an article on homeless issues that is still in this site. He ignored homeless for 16 years. Now we have a liccardo made disaster. I told you all 30 years ago what we would get. Guaranteed I could fix it. Bellarmine mafia clowns like Sammy…. I’m sure everyone knows by now he’s Bellarmine mafia. He acts like it could be possible…. His grandfather showed us the way. Sal was a crook and his father took all the Silicon Valley breast transplant victims money. That’s Bellarmine 59. Seriously, a dam wise guy as a congressman . This is laughable. He got by with 18,000 votes… millions of dollars and ads saying he took on the NRA making laws. That’s an idiot, mayors don’t make laws they make policy. God save us if we get this clown initiated into the Jim Crow racist tribe of congress.

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