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Bay Area Mayors Call For PG&E To Become Publicly Owned Utility

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) -- Mayors from the Bay Area to Sacramento are campaigning to turn PG&E into a publicly owned utility.

A group of mayors from across Northern California sent a letter to the California Public Utilities Commission -- the state agency that oversees PG&E -- asking it to press pause and explore the option of public ownership before PG&E's bankruptcy is resolved.

"PG&E -- both through service interruptions, through financial ruin, and through putting profits before people -- has seriously compromised the trust of their customers," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Schaaf echoed the call of San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who tweeted Tuesday morning,

"It's time to align PG&E's financial interest with the public interest by letting its customers become the owners of the company. I'm working with mayors and supervisors throughout CA, representing more than 5M residents, to urge long-overdue change."

The letter sent to the CPUC states that the mayors' immediate attention is focused on the recovery of those affected by the recent wildfires and power shutoffs, but adds they have serious concerns about what will emerge from the bankruptcy proceedings PG&E is now facing.

In addition to Schaaf and Liccardo, the letter was signed by mayors representing the Bay Area cities of

Hayward, Sunnyvale, Berkeley, Richmond, Redwood City, Petaluma, Windsor, Sonoma and Cotati as well as politicians in Marin and San Mateo counties.

Schaaf said she wants the company to be more sustainable and reinvest in the safety of its infrastructure, without shareholders clouding the picture.

"The idea that this valuable resource, this basic human need -- power, electricity -- is actually in service to the people who rely on it every day. Not to folks on Wall Street that need to turn profits," explained Schaaf.

A statement issued by PG&E spokeswoman Jennifer Robison late Tuesday morning addressed the letter.

"PG&E's facilities are not for sale, and changing the structure of the company would not create a safer operation," the statement read. "We remain firmly convinced that a government or customer takeover is not the optimal solution that will address the challenges and serve the long-run interests of all customers in the communities we serve."

As for a new public company, the mayors were uncertain if it would be run by cities, counties, or the state; they just want all options to be explored.

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