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S.F. Considers Buying Some of PG&E’s Infrastructure in Wake of Bankruptcy Plans

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Pacific Gas and Electric trucks sit parked on a street on June 18, 2018, in San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The head of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission says Monday's announcement by Pacific Gas & Electric that it plans to file for bankruptcy protection has led the city to consider buying some of PG&E's electricity distribution system.

The comments by SFPUC General Manager Harlan Kelly came after Mayor London Breed reassured residents in the city — where PG&E is headquartered — that their gas and electric service will not be affected by the company's financial problems.

"People will still have complete access to power in their homes, their businesses, and throughout the city," Breed said in a statement.

PG&E said it plans to file for bankruptcy protection because it's facing potentially vast liabilities resulting from wildfires that devastated parts of Northern California in 2017 and 2018.

The move came after the utility announced that its CEO, Geisha Williams, has resigned.

A barricade stood in front of PG&E's San Francisco headquarters on Jan. 14, 2019, the day the company announced it plans to file for bankruptcy protection.
A barricade stood in front of PG&E's San Francisco headquarters on Jan. 14, 2019, the day the company announced it plans to file for bankruptcy protection. (Michelle Wiley/KQED)

Mayor Breed said she has directed the SFPUC to study any impacts the PG&E bankruptcy will have on the city, and to identify options the city has "to ensure that everyone in San Francisco has access to clean, safe, and reliable power."

SFPUC officials say that, within the next three months, their agency will release findings that will include recommendations and an analysis of the current health of the city's electrical network.

"The SFPUC is studying the near- and long-term impacts of a PG&E bankruptcy and identifying all possible options to ensure continuity for all San Francisco power customers — including the possibility of acquiring or building electrical infrastructure assets," Kelly said.

The agency relies on PG&E to deliver clean energy to its CleanPowerSF customers. The commission and Breed both said there should be no impact to that service.

"San Francisco will continue to invest in our ability to deliver clean power for our residents," the mayor said.

Members of the Board of Supervisors are expected to ask SFPUC officials about the PG&E bankruptcy filing at Tuesday's board meeting.


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