City of San Francisco considers buying PG&E distribution network


San Francisco has placed a financial adviser on retainer to help the city’s management explore the possible purchase of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s local power lines, a sign that affirms the city’s intentions to move toward a full-fledged municipal utility.

The city has retained New York investment bank Jefferies, to guide it on making a bid for PG&E’s electric distribution equipment in the city area, according to spokersperson from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFUC).

City managers have considered buying PG&E’s distribution lines ever since the utility’s bankruptcy filing early in 2019.

A May 2019 SFPUC report concluded that acquiring the infrastructure could benefit both residents, and the city’s climate goals, although according to the spokesperon, the acquisition would cost the city “in the neighborhood of a few billion dollars.”

San Francisco buys energy for residential consumers via its CleanPowerSF programme, but relies on PG&E infrastructure for distribution.
The move would also allow for the city to take on a larger role as a service provider, and transition to a similar government-run utility model, such as that in place in Los Angeles.

San Franciso mayor London Breed, and city atttorney Dennis Herrera have informed PG&E that they could make a formal offer to the company later in 2019 as part of the bankruptcy process.

PG&E anticipates reviewing San Francisco’s analysis about the potential purchase and appreciates the city’s “open and transparent dialogue on the subject,” utility spokeswoman Andrea Menniti said in an email.

“We all agree on the importance of continuing to serve the citizens of San Francisco clean, affordable, and reliable energy,” said PG&E spokesperson Andrea Menniti. “PG&E has been a part of San Francisco since the company’s founding more than a century ago, and we are committed to working with the City and will remain open to communication on this issue.”

Whilst the city’s acquisition of the distribution network is pending, it has stated concrete goals that will see all commercial building in the city transition to clean energy by 2022. Here’s the story.