Fresno leaders voice concerns with PG&E, aim to lower utility bills

According to Councilman Bredefeld, one of the ways to fix some problems is for the city to form their own Public Utility District.

Brittany Jacob Image
Tuesday, November 1, 2022
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Fresno leaders are exploring ways to reduce your energy bill, starting with exploring options other than using the city's sole energy provider: PG&E.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- State, county and city leaders came together for one purpose: to call out what they say is Pacific Gas and Electric's ongoing failures impacting residents across Fresno County.

"Let me be very clear and direct -- PG&E is not a good corporate partner to the City of Fresno or throughout California, and I'm being kind," says councilmember Gary Bredefeld.

The frustration was high, and city officials did not hold back on Monday morning.

Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer pointed to the city's high electricity costs

"PG&E is single-handedly destroying our local economy," he said.

As a solution, on Thursday's Fresno City Council agenda, city leaders plan to discuss hiring a consultant to perform a feasibility study for the city of Fresno so that it can provide other options for electricity.

State Center Community College District Chancellor Dr. Carole Goldsmith says PG&E has failed to energize some of their projects, like the Fresno City College's parking structure and the new West Fresno campus.

"Our projects have been delayed, delayed and the stall tactics are just overwhelming," she said.

Building Industry Association CEO Michael Prandini says the delays have also affected builders and home buyers.

"One builder had to wait 18 months to get a transformer placed on the property, and then they had to wait on another five months to get the power to them, so that destroys your production schedule," he said.

According to Councilman Bredefeld, one of the ways to fix these problems is for the city to form its own Public Utility District.

He says approximately 60 percent of electrical utilities in the US are publicly run.

But City Councilman Miguel Arias disagrees.

"We don't have the expertise to generate, operate and buy/sell power to millions," he said. "Rates would increase with their alternative as we would have to own all of PG&E's debt."

PG&E also weighed in, releasing a statement saying, in part, "While we understand the frustration some are feeling, exploring a public takeover will not benefit customers, whether in Fresno or elsewhere."

PG&E says inflation and supply chain issues have impacted the resources it has available to meet growing demand.

The utility company insists it is working with stakeholders to provide updates and build solutions to meet energy needs.

Dyer said he would still want to partner with PG&E because it already has the infrastructure in place.

This item will be discussed during the Fresno City Council meeting this Thursday.