Sylvia Siegel reflections - Rochelle Becker
Sylvia Siegel, a tireless and sharp-tongued crusader who founded the utility-battling consumer group TURN (originally called Toward Utility Rate Normalization) on her kitchen table in 1973, died August 18, 2007 at a home in Marin County. Ms. Siegel, who at 71 predicted she would live to 84 because "that sounds like a good number," died from complications of old age, according to her daughter Polly Siegel. She was 89. She was an amazing woman and an inspiration to all.
Some people we meet in life are impossible to forget; Sylvia Siegel was one of those people. Decades ago an unusual "sit-in" at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) brought me to San Francisco. On that summer day in 1981, an unlikely alliance of doctors, business owners, ministers, professors, accountants, parents and grandparents from San Luis Obispo chose to step outside their comfort zones to question the wisdom of putting nuclear reactors on California's seismically active coast.
Sylvia joined us, called her press contacts, and made sure everyone knew this "sit-in" had TURN's full support. From that day forward, Sylvia visited us often and became a friend and champion we relied upon and never forgot.
When Sylvia stood on the steps of the Public Utilities Commission, she didn't mince words about cost overruns and delays—the bane of the nuclear industry. Her righteous indignation when the CPUC allowed PG&E to charge ratepayers a ten-fold rate increase, without reviewing the reason, was a sight to behold.
California owes a great debt to Sylvia Siegel; she left behind an organization of incredibly talented advocates who will keep her spirit alive wherever and whenever ratepayers' interests are at stake.