Many people have contacted me this week regarding PG&E's failures during the recent storms. Some have gone days without electricity, and PG&E still hasn’t told them when their service will be restored. One neighbor told me that her home has lost power 38 times over the past 13 months.
The storms revealed the fragile state of PG&E’s infrastructure, as well as the company’s continued lack of accountability. New hookups can take up to a year, and new solar installations get delayed indefinitely because PG&E lacks the correct transformers. Customers spend thousands on solar equipment only to be left holding the bag. PG&E’s energy monopoly threatens our very future, and it’s time for the public to take control.
It’s time we turned PG&E into a public utility. The energy that powers our homes, schools, and businesses is a vital part of the economy, and we need to ensure that the customers get precedence over the profit.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at PG&E’s record over the recent past.
Since 2010, PG&E has been found guilty of at least 90 felonies, including 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter. The company has paid out over $25.5 billion in damages to wildfire victims since 2017.
Despite being hit with billions in damages, PG&E is still VERY profitable. Its gross profit for the 12 months ending September 30, 2023 was just over $18 billion. How did they accomplish this miracle? It’s simple. First they sought bankruptcy protection from US taxpayers, and then they raised their rates.
Few people know that the state guarantees PG&E a 10-12% profit on all capital investment. How does it make this profit? Rate hikes. When PG&E spends $6 million to underground one mile of cable, this exorbitant cost is passed on to its customers. It’s perverse, but the profit guarantees mean that PG&E actually has an incentive to waste money on its infrastructure projects.
Speaking of waste, it’s particularly galling to see PG&E spend millions on TV ads. What’s the purpose of these ads? PG&E has no competition, so it makes no sense for them to bombard us with their plans for California’s “affordable energy future.” No doubt that future would be at least more affordable if PG&E ceased breaking the law and wasting money on expensive ads.
Now PG&E has adopted a new strategy. They’ve successfully pushed for a tiered billing system based on household income. This means that no matter how much electricity you use, your bill will remain the same; that is, unless of course you get a raise at work—then it will likely go up. This plan punishes hard work, eliminates any incentive for energy conservation, and further undermines our once-burgeoning solar industry.
California deserves better. PG&E continues to put our homes and businesses at risk while making piles of money for their out-of-state investors. This must end.
California needs to move forward and municipalize PG&E—bringing it under public ownership—so that we can prioritize affordability, reliability, safety, and sustainability over profits. It’s time to have PG&E work in the interest of the people of California, not against them.
Let's stand together against corporate greed and fight for a truly affordable energy future—one with reliable and sustainable energy. To get there, PG&E must become a public utility.
During my campaign, I've encountered many people at their doors who express deep frustration over escalating utility bills from PG&E and a lack of accountability from the CPUC. PG&E is now the most expensive electric utility company in our country! The rising bill is a problem, but what's going on with the net new revenue for PG&E? Homeowners are even dismayed by the lengthy delays in getting new lines installed by PG&E, highlighting poor management within the company.
In late 2022, the state Public Utilities Commission drastically cut the rate paid to homeowners for surplus solar power by about 75%, a change that began affecting new solar applicants. This decision has significantly dampened consumer interest in residential solar. Solar energy is pivotal for California's goal to transition to 90% carbon-free electricity by 2035 and 100% by 2045, with solar expected to supply over half of the grid's power by then. Here is what happened: PG&E decided to drastically lower the amount they pay for solar power fed back into the grid to about 3 cents per kilowatt-hour, a big drop from the current 25 to 45 cents. This means if you generate and use the same amount of solar power in a day, you’ll end up paying PG&E more than you save. This could extend the time it takes to benefit from solar from 6-8 years to 12-16 years or even more. This new pricing plan is killing the rooftop solar industry in California. It's essential to strengthen policies that support energy conservation and rooftop solar, and to oppose the CPUC's habit of green-lighting these utilities' rate increase requests without proper evaluation.
Furthermore, the unreasonable rate hike proposals from PG&E disproportionately impact Californians, who are already burdened with high costs. The proposed income-based charge undermines efforts to save energy, benefitting high energy users to the detriment of smaller, efficient homes and the working class. This injustice must end.
I am committed to overturning the income-based fixed charge for utility customers and revitalizing the solar industry with incentives that address climate change effectively.
Public safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) have become a PR nightmare for PG&E while creating a huge question mark and concerns for residents. The blackouts have impacted lives adversely while the economic impact is staggering! Our citizens are also asking ‘What gusty wind?’ Is this an example of a monopoly and crony capitalism? We grant PG&E a monopoly status at the cost of being governed by the people. I believe they can be governed better!
I am concerned with the investor-owned utilities' profit mandates, their continued under-investment in their electric grid, and their reliance on old fossil fuel plants. The answer is to go with the public utility model and municipalization. It is time for a massive public takeover so that we can prioritize citizen benefit over profit.
As a councilmember of Saratoga, California, I proposed the municipalization of San Jose Water Company, which supplies water to a million residents covering the cities of San Jose, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Campbell. Their profits have skyrocketed with exploitative rate increases. I have been pushing back on the numerous rate increase proposals of San Jose Water Company since 2016 and we have already rejected, reduced, and suspended a total of 10 water rate increases.
PG&E’s failure to maintain their power lines, which contributed to the wildfires seen across the state, resulted in the power company’s decision to institute the blackouts in 2019. PG&E’s infrastructure has been deteriorating. The San Bruno explosion should have been a wake up call. The Paradise fire was a disaster. What is PG&E’s plan? Shifting the costs from utilities to communities in highly inequitable ways is not acceptable. They should develop a good maintenance plan by deploying some of the latest IOT monitoring systems in place. News reports of PG&E choosing to divert money from infrastructure initiatives to boost corporate profits and to pay executives even more is concerning to many. Sacramento quietly recertified PG&E as a "safe" company - despite officials making the utility company responsible for the wildfires. Even more egregious, California spent $9.6 million on private attorneys who wrote a law protecting PG&E’s profits. State records reveal the law firm had represented PG&E for years.
We need to move forward quickly and find a long term viable solution to address the woes of California’s electricity challenges. The time is now! Sign these petitions below. As your congressman, I will always put the people first, protect you and ensure that our system works for you.
I would like to draw your attention to a deeply concerning proposal, Sacramento's Assembly Bill 205 (already signed by Governor Newsom into law), which could potentially impact individuals and families in our community.
The top private gas and electric utility companies of California, including PG&E, are advocating for a proposal that would change utility rates based on income, resulting in a significant increase in your bill. CPUC is now evaluating it, so now is the time to exert our point of view.
Why should our income data be provided to PG&E? It is very concerning to say the least.
This proposal is alarming, and we must raise our voice and urge the CPUC to reconsider any move towards differential rates based on income. This policy would be unfair and unjust, favoring private utility companies over consumers like us.
There are numerous perspectives from which to view this policy change, but ultimately it appears misguided and could potentially benefit the IOUs. What if PG&E charged us a fixed $200/month, but made our electricity 8 cents/kWh,there would be no logic to getting residential solar right? This will give you a sense of what is going on.
Here is a sample protest letter that you can copy and paste:
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, PublicAdvocatesOffice@cpuc.ca.gov
Subject: No to income based utility rates
Dear President Reynolds and commissioners,
I wanted to share my thoughts on the proposed changes in utility rates based on income (AB 205). I'm really worried that this approach could discourage people from conserving energy because there might be less of an incentive to do so if rates are based on income instead of usage. Just wanted to express my concern!
Please review the petition here - which I have signed.
I have done my part, now CPUC should too: My family and I have been trying to conserve energy by reducing our usage of electricity and gas. We've been adjusting the thermostat during the day and night, wearing warmer clothes, and even installing LED light bulbs and solar panels. But, even with our efforts, our bills have been going up because of PG&E's steep rate hikes over the last three years, particularly for gas.
Utility rates should be based on usage, not income: There are currently 173 investor-owned utilities across the country that charge a set fee to cover a portion of their services. However, none of these utilities determine the fixed charges based on income, and on average, the fee is roughly $10, with the highest being $40. It doesn't quite add up that this new approach would take such a significant jump from $10 to $128. Plus, it's worth noting that this proposed approach by CPUC would be the first of its kind worldwide.
A for-profit organization will now have access to my income information? Apparently, utilities are going to receive ratepayer income details from FTB. However, in my opinion, PG&E shouldn't be collecting or retaining such sensitive information, not now or on an annual basis. I am genuinely shocked that my personal and confidential income data will be shared with a private utility. What happens if their database gets hacked? Who would be accountable for that? This is an enormous violation of privacy and something that the state could be held responsible for.
Shouldn't the CPUC be standing up for the people? I've heard rumors that the investor-owned utilities (IOUs: PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E) have an excessive amount of influence over the CPUC. If this proposal were to be implemented, it could potentially hinder efforts towards electricity conservation since the per kWh rate would be significantly decreased.
This will undermine the future of solar in California: What's even more concerning is that this new proposal is also targeting rooftop solar energy! People who have already invested in solar made their decisions based on a calculated payback period. However, with the fixed fee component and lower per kWh rate, that payback period will be extended, essentially circumventing the 20-year contract between each customer and their utility. On top of that, this proposal will reduce the motivation for potential new customers to invest in and install solar power. It's clear that investor-owned utilities have little interest in promoting rooftop solar energy, as it threatens their monopoly on power generation and transmission. Which brings me to…
…I have to say, I've been extremely disappointed with your previous actions in dismantling California's solar program. As of April 15th, 2023, new solar rooftop installations will receive a significantly smaller credit for each excess kilowatt under the new Net Tariff Billing. The California Solar and Storage Association, the state's largest solar trade organization, reports that this reduction is about 75%. As a result, the payback period for rooftop solar installations will be significantly extended. Even if a ratepayer installs batteries, a paired storage system won't be able to address the substantial seasonal variations in solar output. Frankly, this new tariff is terrible. It was already tried in Nevada and resulted in a significant drop in solar installations, forcing their legislature to eventually reverse the decision. Rooftop solar is a vital component of our energy mix, and CPUC should be advocating for policies that support it, rather than policies that favor the investor-owned utilities.
There are programs in place today: It's worth noting that PG&E currently offers two discount programs, CARE and FERA, which assist eligible customers in paying their energy bills. Millions of customers are already benefiting from these programs. So, what exactly is the problem that we're trying to solve with this new approach? Why is the burden being shifted to us, the ratepayers?
In conclusion: I implore you not to make another mistake with an income-based approach. Instead, let's make responsible decisions that will help us tackle our climate issues, rather than exacerbate them. This approach doesn't seem right for me, nor for the state of California. It certainly isn't the direction that we want to be heading towards as a country.
Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely,YOUR NAME Click here to send this email now
The municipalization of Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), which aims to transition ownership and operations from a private entity to public control, has enormous benefits. Motivated by a desire for enhanced reliability, lower costs, and a commitment to sustainable energy sources, this initiative seeks to place the utility's operations under local governance, ensuring accountability and responsiveness to community needs. Studies have shown that municipal utilities often provide services at lower rates compared to private utilities. Municipal utilities prioritize public benefit over profit maximization. Public utilities have a strong incentive to maintain high levels of service reliability and operational efficiency, as they are directly accountable to their customers, who are also the local residents. Municipalization can enhance democratic participation by allowing residents a voice in how their utility is run.
PG&E's service history and operational challenges have highlighted the need for a utility model that prioritizes public interest, environmental stewardship, and economic efficiency. Municipalization presents a viable pathway to achieve these goals, fostering local control over energy resources and decision-making.
A comprehensive feasibility study to assess the technical, financial, and legal aspects of acquiring PG&E’s assets and operations is a starting point. This study will evaluate the existing infrastructure’s condition, the financial implications of municipalization, and potential legal barriers or challenges.
Securing broad public support is crucial for the success of municipalization. A series of community meetings and informational campaigns conducted to educate the public on the benefits of local utility control will generate public support. Additionally, a referendum may be organized to formally gauge community backing.
A detailed review of existing laws and regulations to identify any necessary changes or approvals required for municipalization is a key step. Efforts will be made to work with state and local legislators to address legal hurdles and facilitate a smooth transition.
The acquisition of PG&E's assets will be financed through a combination of municipal bonds, loans, and other financial instruments. This section will outline the proposed financing model, ensuring the long-term economic viability of the municipal utility.
Negotiations with PG&E for the purchase of its assets will be approached with a commitment to fairness and transparency. This includes determining a fair market value for the utility’s infrastructure and customer base. Condemning PG&E during the process of municipalization will allow the exercise of eminent domain. Condemning refers to a legal and administrative process by which a municipal authority exercises its power of eminent domain to take ownership of the utility's property, infrastructure, and assets for public use. Eminent domain is the right of a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation.
A legal strategy will be developed to navigate and address potential challenges from PG&E, regulatory bodies, or other stakeholders. Legal expertise will be needed to ensure compliance with all statutory and regulatory requirements.
A detailed plan for the operational transition from PG&E to municipal control will be prepared. This plan will cover staffing, billing systems, maintenance protocols, and customer service improvements.
The proposal will seek all necessary approvals from relevant regulatory bodies, including state utility commissions and local government entities, to proceed with municipalization.
The municipalization of PG&E represents a transformative opportunity to enhance utility service delivery, promote renewable energy, and ensure that local energy decisions are made in the best interest of the community. Following the approval of this proposal, immediate steps will include the initiation of the feasibility study and public engagement efforts.
Municipalization of PG&E is not only feasible but essential for the future wellbeing and sustainability of our community. It will not be easy, but it has become critical for the future of California.
The destructive Hawaii wildfire ignited by Hawaiian Electric Industries power lines shows California's vulnerability with PG&E. A similar negligence caused PG&E's San Bruno gas explosion and Paradise fire. Hawaii's case reveals the immense damage utility-sparked blazes can inflict when fire safety is disregarded. PG&E must implement a comprehensive wind-down plan for outdated infrastructure in fire-prone regions. Automatic shut-offs when risk is high are critical. PG&E should also be required to modernize equipment and clear vegetation around lines. Hawaii's tragedy is a warning that utilities like PG&E require stringent oversight and proactive upgrades to prevent more loss. With climate change increasing fire danger, PG&E must take every precaution or continue to endanger Californians. We cannot allow another Paradise or San Bruno due to a negligent utility.
Meanwhile, PG&E is again off-track, trying to tie utility rates to our income - which would be unprecedented and the first in the world. Send an email to PUC today please. Click on the button, review the email and hit send.
PG&E continues to amass a growing maintenance backlog that jeopardizes public safety, despite assurances that the problem is being addressed. The utility faces over 170,000 repairs in high fire-threat areas, yet its wildfire mitigation plan lacks adequate strategies to tackle this critical issue. Historical underinvestment in maintenance incentivizes putting profits first, before community wellbeing.
It is unacceptable for PG&E to downplay these risks while discovering even more infrastructure faults. Lives and property are on the line. We need PG&E to detail urgent plans for securing personnel, equipment, and funding to rapidly eliminate this backlog and prevent deadly disasters.
Our communities demand action, not more empty promises. Contact CPUC to compell PG&E into immediate maintenance prioritization. We must keep the pressure on until PG&E makes substantive progress. Prevention through proactive upgrades and repairs is the only way to protect public safety. The time is now, before the next wildfire gets going.
Frustrated by PG&E's underperformance, San Jose is exploring a major step - creating its own city-run electric utility. City leaders feel PG&E's backlog of projects and lack of funds cannot support vital new infrastructure in a timely way. To power future development, San Jose may establish San Jose Power. The city is set to vote on amending the municipal code to enable this significant change. After years of PG&E falling short, San Jose is poised to take matters into its own hands.
For Santa Clara County: Santa Clara County’s Community choice aggregation program provides electricity from renewable and carbon-free sources to residents via the county JPA organization, Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE). In total, SVCE serves approximately 270,000 customers across these 12 communities Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Mountain View. Saratoga, and Sunnyvale. It is time, SVCE explores an option similar to what San Jose is undertaking. PG&E cannot be trusted and we cannot be left exposed as a community. It’s time for SVCE to take prudent steps forward.
For San Mateo County:
Many cities of San Mateo County have moved to community choice aggregation program that provides electricity from renewable and carbon-free sources to residents via Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE) a few years ago. In total, PCE serves customers across Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Colma, Daly City, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Pacifica, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo, South San Francisco, and Woodside. It is time, PCE explores an option similar to what San Jose is undertaking. PG&E cannot be trusted and we cannot be left exposed as a community. It’s time for PCE to take prudent steps forward.
Calling out the issues and taking action has been my political track record.
Silicon Valley deserves a representative who will put your interests over special interests.
To make that happen, I need your support and humbly request a campaign contribution today.