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PG&E accused of stalling new construction projects by not connecting power

PG&E under fire for slow activation of power to new construction
PG&E under fire for slow activation of power to new construction 03:08

Housing advocates and construction workers are accusing PG&E of stalling and choking off the completion of affordable housing units in the Bay Area.

At a San Francisco City Hall rally on Friday, a large group that included city and state officials demanded PG&E to provide power to dozens of buildings that are almost move-in ready.

One of the buildings that's currently waiting for a new transformer is the former Granada Hotel at 1000 Sutter Street.

"We lose our power a lot.  I have to go to the breaker a lot because the power in this building is not good at all," said Brian Bowers, a building resident.

Bowers was homeless.  He now lives at the Granada after the building was renovated and transformed into low-income housing.

Advocates said because PG&E can't provide a new transformer to the building, it's delaying the construction work.  And that's hurting people like Bowers, who's waiting to move into a new unit.

"Me and my wife, we have separate units." said Bowers. "We've been together for 20 years, So we're taking up two rooms. That means [someone else] can't have a room."

"There are currently 75 projects, including housing developments, that are being delayed because they cannot be connected to the grid because of PG&E," said San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

The mayor's office pointed to a 100% affordable housing project at 4840 Mission Street. Contractors said it took months for PG&E to supply power.

"These delays are costing the city and the county of San Francisco almost $35 million additional on top of what we're already paying," said Mayor Breed. "This is criminal. This is neglect. This is dysfunctional."

"When buildings are completely done, people are ready to move in. And all that needs to happen is we need to connect the building to the electrical grid. PG&E is literally taking months to do this," complained Corey Smith, the executive director of Housing Action Coalition.

Smith is also a part of the FAIR California Coalition, which includes housing advocates and unionized construction workers.

"It delays new housing coming onto the market, which means there's lower supply, which is going to continue to drive up prices," said Smith.

PG&E said they're running out of subsurface or underground transformers. No transformers means no power.

In a statement, PG&E wrote, "The wait for electric transformers is a nationwide supply-chain issue that is not unique to PG&E. A 2023 report from the Edison Electric Institute found that 75% of all investor-owned utilities were experiencing similar shortages and were likely to continue to do so through mid-2024."

But the longer it takes to finish the Granada, the longer Bowers will have to wait. He's been promised a new unit in the building that he would share with his wife.

"PG&E needs to get on it.  They need to do their job. That way, everybody else can finish up theirs and we can live happily," said Bowers.

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