San Francisco leaders have been thinking about creating the city's own independent, public version of PG&E for a while now, and the utility's bankruptcy has perhaps provided the perfect opportunity. Now the city has offered PG&E $2.5 billion to purchase its San Francisco electrical grid.
Mayor London Breed in January asked the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) to explore the feasibility of doing just this, and the resulting preliminary report arrived in May. Now, as ABC 7 reports, the city has made an offer for PG&E's electrical lines, with a view toward both becoming carbon neutral and potentially offering electricity to SF residents at a reduced rate.
As Supervisor Matt Haney said in a comment to the station, "This is a chance to own our own grid and not have a private company have a monopoly on it."
As the Chronicle notes, such a transaction would be "a turning point" for the embattled utility, whose roots in San Francisco go back 150 years. But it wouldn't even be the biggest government-owned utility in the state — Los Angeles and Sacramento each have city-run utilities of their own.
Also, the deal would not rid us of PG&E completely — the deal is for the electrical grid only, and the city would not be buying any of PG&E's gas lines.
Cash for the purchase would come from a municipal power bond that voters agreed last year the city could use, and the debt would be paid off through revenue from electrical bills.
The city already provides electricity to thousands of customers through the Clean Power SF program, established by the Board of Supervisors in 2013 under Mayor Ed Lee, though he opposed it. That program purchases power from renewable sources and transmits it over PG&E's lines.
In a statement to ABC 7, PG&E said, "PG&E has been a part of San Francisco since the company's founding... and while we don't believe municipalization is in the best interests of our customers and stakeholders, we are committed to working with the city."
State and federal regulators would still have to approve the transaction, if PG&E takes SF up on the offer.