SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – News of a PG&E’s plan to file bankruptcy sparked panic in some, but in others, it raised the possibility of a power grab.
Customers were wondering about their bills, and stockholders were worried about their investments, but inside San Francisco City Hall, opportunities like this don’t come along very often.
“Once in a century opportunity,” says District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin.
“For San Francisco, it’s absolutely an opportunity,” agreed District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen.
For these two supervisors and San Francisco City Hall, the relationship with PG&E has been a dysfunctional one in recent years. At times, it has been highly charged.
In June of last year, Ronen told PG&E representatives that she considered the company’s behavior potentially criminal.
“The number of grievances that the city and county of San Francisco has with PG&E have been many,” explains Peskin, a frequent critic of PG&E.
Those grievances are largely the result of San Francisco’s own public utility and PG&E existing as both partner, and competitor. The city is trying to build out an independent, green power program, while still dependent on the investor-owned utility to keep everything connected.
“And they have used that power over us to basically blackmail us,” says Ronen, “and stall projects from being built, add ridiculous requirements.”
For supervisors who had spent years wondering how to end the dispute that had delayed public projects across the city, the bankruptcy news seemed like a possible path forward.
Mayor London Breed was more cautious, but she has instructed her staff to start planning for a possible PG&E sale.
“Whether it’s purchasing of some of their facilities, Breed said. “Those are things we want to explore.”
It is too early to know exactly how PG&E’s bankruptcy will unfold, but supervisor Peskin is already identifying funding sources for the purchase of PG&E equipment.
“I’m very pleased my colleagues and the mayor realize this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said.