In early January, RCRC staff and a number of members of the RCRC Board of Directors met with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Mr. Dan Richard (at their request) to explore the option of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) becoming a customer-owned utility post-bankruptcy. In response to those meetings, RCRC posed a list of lengthy questions on how such a co-op model would be structured, governed, and operated.
“Given the devastating impacts recent wildfires and PSPS events have had on our member counties, we are interested in improving utility governance, increasing responsiveness to customers, and enhancing safety cultures,” stated the letter, signed by eight members of the RCRC Board of Directors. “Energy usage and demographics make rural California sensitive to the prospective rate hikes that will be necessary to upgrade PG&E’s aging infrastructure to reduce future wildfire risk, increase system reliability, and avoid the need for widespread PSPS events. We are intrigued by your efforts to refocus PG&E on its customers, reduce the cost of acquiring capital for system improvements, and compensating wildfire victims. At the same time, we have many questions about how a very large customer-owned utility will be structured and operated.”
The questions RCRC posed cover a number of issues associated with the proposal, including items related to:
- Corporate structure;
- CPUC oversight, service territory, and protections for rural ratepayers;
- Provider of last resort; and,
- Financial and operational stability.
As a whole, RCRC would very much like to see an alternative model for the PG&E territory that vastly improves the status quo once it emerges from bankruptcy. However, until the questions posed in the letter are answered, RCRC cannot endorse the proposal.
RCRC’s letter can be accessed here. As of publication, RCRC has not received a response.