A few weeks back, at a protest, I met a woman named Fatima Malik. She was demanding the Sacramento county board of supervisors take action on policies affecting the climate and spreading the word of her campaign. A campaign for a seat not too many people pay attention to because it’s not the high profile elected seat people care about in our elections.
Fatima Malik is running for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District board (SMUD) ward 5 seat. She believes representation matters, and the SMUD board needs a change.
“The reason I decided to run for the SMUD board is because representation is important, and there is very little representation in the energy sector,” Malik said.
Ward 5 covers downtown, midtown, North Sacramento, Rio Linda, Elverta, and Natomas. According to Malik, Rob Kerth, who currently holds the seat, has been running uncontested since 2008. ”This is the first time in 12 years that voters will even have an option,” Malik said. Unlike PG&E, SMUD is a publicly owned energy company for Sacramento residents, and most people Malik has been talking with don’t understand how SMUD operates.
“Most of my job since I’ve been running has been education and awareness that this (SMUD) is a publicly owned utility company. We as the customers own SMUD. We should have a say in all the decisions and policies that are being made on our behalf.No one really cares about SMUD. All we care about is that our lights stay on and our bills being low; Well, guess what, we’re in jeopardy of our lights not being on and our bills not being low” Malik said.
Fatima Malik’s top priorities she is hoping to change if elected are to fight climate change, give SMUD customers the power to eliminate or lower SMUD bills with rooftop solar and battery storage, reducing set rates based on peoples ability to pay, and lastly, she hopes to have SMUD provide internet to all SMUD customers.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been forced to stay at home, which has increased people’s utility bills. “My neighbor has come crying to me asking for help because her SMUD bill has doubled, and she doesn’t know how she is going to afford it,” Malik said. SMUD has set policies to increase rates depending on what time of day a customer uses their power. Usually, from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm having the highest rates. Now that people are home more while California has seen record-breaking heatwaves, people are forced to use their Air conditioning during hours when SMUD has placed higher surcharges.
“This isn’t about changing light bulbs anymore; we’ve hit the energy efficiency ceiling. This requires new leadership,” Malik said, paraphrasing Governor Gavin Newsom. “So that’s where I come in. It’s time for new leadership and to do the right thing,” Malik Said.