Supervisors Back Breed’s $2.5B Offer to PG&E

San Francisco is eager to expand renewable energy service, free from the bankruptcy-ridden utility.

PG&E’s Pacific Energy Center in San Francisco. (Courtesy photo)

San Francisco supervisors are throwing their weight behind Mayor London Breed’s offer to buy PG&E’s equipment to the tune of $2.5 billion.

Supervisor Hillary Ronen introduced a resolution on Tuesday, which is already unanimously co-sponsored, in support of Breed’s offer made on Friday. Amid PG&E’s bankruptcy proceeding this year due to several lawsuits of its role in California’s wildfires, the city has studied a takeover.

In January, PG&E estimated $71 billion in assets and $50 billion in liabilities. While the investor-owned utility is hard-up for cash, San Francisco is eager to expand its renewable energy service and meet its climate goals. PG&E owning the power grid used to deliver CleanPowerSF has its limitations. In a report released in May, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission recommended pursuing an acquisition of PG&E equipment.

“The offer we are putting forth is competitive, fair and equitable,” Breed said in a statement with City Attorney Dennis Herrera on Sunday. “It will offer financial stability for PG&E, while helping the city expand upon our efforts to provide reliable, safe, clean and affordable electricity to the residents and businesses of San Francisco. It also considers equity for PG&E’s remaining customers and the city’s responsibility for ongoing costs.”

Voters recently gave city leaders the go-ahead to pay for public utility infrastructure, with the idea to establish clean power facilities, through bonds with the passage of June 2018’s Proposition A.  But the road ahead is far from smooth — a PG&E spokesperson told the Chronicle that, though they were open to communication, they didn’t believe having a publicly-run utility was the best idea. Plus the company’s union leadership is opposed to “any sale, break-up, municipalization, or change of ownership.”

Ronen, who has criticized PG&E’s handling of gas explosions and role in costly electrical delays to city projects like affordable housing, agreed that now is the right time to turn things around.

“San Franciscans are sick of being held hostage by PG&E, and strongly support a transition to public power,” Ronen said. “What is abundantly clear is that by having our electricity delivered by our own public utility, San Francisco has the potential to bring cost savings and benefits to our communities, to invest in green jobs and infrastructure, to modernize our aging electrical grid, and to be 100% carbon-neutral by 2030.”

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