San Francisco

SF Offers to Buy PG&E Assets to Launch Municipal Power Company

The city of San Francisco is making a move to get into the electricity business.

Since PG&E filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, City Hall has been crunching the numbers to come up with an offer to buy the company's assets. This weekend, the mayor and city attorney named their price.

In a simple four-paragraph statement released Sunday morning, Mayor London Breed and City Attorney Dennis Herrera said the city is offering a fair price for the utility's equipment.

"The city and county of San Francisco has taken an important step toward energy independence by submitting an official offer letter to Pacific Gas and Electric, PG&E, of $2.5 billion for the acquisition of electric distribution and transmission assets that serve San Francisco," the statement read.

It's not the first time San Francisco has tried such a maneuver. But now that the utility is in bankruptcy and facing sizable liabilities for several wildfires over the past few years, the city is hoping now is an opportune time.

State Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), often a critic of PG&E, supports the move.

"I'm really pleased to see that San Francisco is making the offer," Hill said. "Now's the best time to do it since (PG&E is) in bankruptcy. Certainly, they could use the money."

PG&E released a statement Sunday, saying in part: "While we don't believe municipalization is in the best interests of our customers and stakeholders, we are committed to working with the city and will remain open to communication on this issue."

PG&E historically has resisted such efforts by municipalities, and this offer seems to be pretty similar so far. What's not yet clear is how such an acquisition would affect ratepayers, both within the city of San Francisco and across the rest of the utility's coverage area.

If the deal eventually happens, San Francisco would join other California cities that run municipal power companies such as Los Angeles, Sacramento and Santa Clara.

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