San Francisco asks CPUC to value local PG&E infrastructure as city seeks to buy it

As San Francisco continues its effort to buy PG&E's electric facilities and transition the city to public power, city officials said on Tuesday they've asked the California Public Utilities Commission to determine the value of PG&E's local electric infrastructure.

The formal request asking the CPUC to determine the value of PG&E's electric assets serving the city comes after the utility has twice rejected a $2.5 billion offer made by the city to purchase its local assets.

Back in 2019, after PG&E filed for bankruptcy as it faced liabilities for deadly wildfires throughout the state, the city made its initial offer. PG&E rejected a second offer the following year.

City officials allege the utility has also imposed more than $1 billion in new charges for city customers and delayed basic power hookups for public buildings, including schools, affordable housing projects, transit projects and a University of California at San Francisco research facility.

"While I want to work with this company as a partner, it's been very challenging," Mayor London Breed said, speaking Tuesday at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

"Just imagine hundreds of potentially affordable housing units that could be made available today to low-income families that can't open because we can't connect the power; because of the delays; because of the excuses; because of the expense of providing new equipment that we weren't even aware that we had to provide in the beginning of the process. The goal post being moved throughout the game; that's what we're constantly dealing with," she said.

"We are more than willing to go before the California Public Utilities Commission and make a clear case as to why we want to acquire these assets and what we believe the value is," City Attorney Dennis Herrera said.

"The failure of PG&E to come to the table has been compounded by its obstruction," he said. "This obstruction, this delay needs to stop, and we need get moving forward to make sure that we provide to everyone reliable and affordable public power."

In response, PG&E said while it prided itself in providing over 85 percent clean energy to San Francisco residents, the city's request was frivolous because PG&E isn't looking to sell.

"At the end of the day, PG&E's assets are not for sale and San Francisco's request today for a valuation of PG&E's electric assets by the California Public Utilities Commission is another waste of time and resources," PG&E officials said in a statement. "While CCSF has repeatedly offered to buy PG&E's infrastructure for pennies on the dollar, PG&E doesn't agree that the outcomes of this type of ownership change will benefit customers, taxpayers, other local communities, the state or our economy. For these reasons, and many others, we believe San Francisco's long-term interest in acquiring PG&E's facilities does not serve the interests of customers and neighborhoods in San Francisco."

Breed and Herrera contended that the CPUC request is necessary if the city plans to take ownership of local power utilities and reach its goal of using 100 percent renewable electricity through its public power programs Hetch Hetchy Power and CleanPowerSF by 2025.

Currently both programs provide more than 70 percent of the electricity consumed in the city.