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SF Officials See PG&E Bankruptcy As Chance To Expand Public Power Program

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) --With PG&E's plans to file for bankruptcy later this month, San Francisco city officials are eyeing it as an opportunity to purchase the utility company's infrastructure and expand the city's public power program.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed asked the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission on Monday to study the impacts of PG&E's anticipated bankruptcy.

In a letter to SFPUC General Manager Harlan Kelly, the mayor requested the analysis include steps the city can take to ensure electric power services aren't interrupted, "including the possibility of acquiring and building electrical infrastructure assets."

PG&E's plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection come as a result of its liabilities from devastating wildfires in Northern California in 2017 and 2018. The liabilities could be more than $30 billion, according to a statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Some San Francisco city officials see the PG&E's bankruptcy as an opportunity to wean the city off of its dependence on the private utility as its primary power provider.

"I think it's urgent that San Francisco has a complete divorce from PG&E as soon as possible and takes over operation of this utility," said District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen at a hearing today at City Hall.

Ronen, along with District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, called for the city to end its tumultuous relationship with PG&E and expand its municipal power program, CleanPowerSF - an effort that they say the company has impeded.

"The list of grievances [with PG&E] is growing exponentially," said Peskin.

Under CleanPowerSF, the SFPUC uses PG&E-owned infrastructure to deliver solar and hydro electricity to power municipal buildings and public transit services. City efforts to expand the program and make it available to residents citywide have been hindered by a lack of cooperation from PG&E, according to proponents of the expansion.

PG&E "is holding this and many other municipalities hostage," said Peskin. "This is an unparalleled opportunity to move towards energy independence."

The SFPUC's study on the impacts of PG&E's bankruptcy, as well as options to obtain its assets, is due to be published in April.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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