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El Dorado County To Start Process of Moving From PG&E To Pioneer Community Energy

EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS13) — El Dorado County is no stranger to dealing with Public Safety Power Shutoffs from Pacific Gas and Electric Company; the most recent one wrapped up on Monday night.

"Nobody likes having their power shut off," Johanna Kay from Cameron Park, said.

"For my girlfriend, she takes care of her grandpa," Nikayah Cunningham from Cameron Park, said. "He always needs to have power because he's hooked up to machines."

But, the county may not be dealing with PG&E directly in the future.

"We looked at does it make sense to join another agency that is up and operating? And that's where our connection with Pioneer Community Energy started," John Hidahl, Vice-Chair of the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors, said.

The county Board of Supervisors is now starting the formal process to join a community choice aggregation program with Pioneer Community Energy. It voted Tuesday to start the gathering of essential data and information for this process. This would include the unincorporated areas of the county's west slope but not Placerville or South Lake Tahoe.

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The nonprofit governmental program would buy energy from PG&E, but it would still be transmitted through the lines owned by PG&E, which means shutoffs can still happen. So why is El Dorado County wanting to do this when it means nothing will change when it comes to the shutoff?

Hidahl says aside from cost savings, there's potential for more local control if any changes made at the state level when it comes to PG&E's infrastructure.

"That if the state and the CPUC decides that they want to change what's going on in Northern California with respect to PG&E service, there may be an opportunity for CCAs to consider buyouts of certain portions of infrastructure that PG&E owns," Hidahl said.

Some are supportive of making the shift away from the utility giant.

"On one hand, it'd be nice to have other options. Everybody's always looking for cheaper electricity," Jim Edmiston from Pollock Pines said.

Others aren't charged up about it.

"I think it's going to be mostly futile or mostly symbolic," Randal Smith from Pollock Pines said. "But, it's kind of the obvious beginning place."

Hidahl tells CBS13 they hope to have this process finished by the end of the year. Customers are still able to stay with PG&E if they wish to after the potential move is finalized.

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