50 Organizations Send Letter to Gov. Newsom Calling for PG&E Public Takeover

Sacramento November 14, 2019 – Some 50 organizations, joined by Former PUC President Loretta Lynch, sent a letter to Gov. Newsom today demanding a public takeover of PG&E as a step towards holding accountable the rogue utility, now in bankruptcy.

Noting that PG&E has shut off power to millions of residents and been found responsible for starting hundreds of wildfires, the groups slammed the investor-owned utility for paying out dividends and executive bonuses rather than investing in maintenance and infrastructure.

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The groups challenged Gov. Newsom to match his fiery rhetoric criticizing PG&E with bold action. They say that rather than looking to swap one corporate board for another, the governor should put forward a plan for public power options.

“Public power would provide greater transparency and accountability, giving ratepayers more of a say in utility investments and priorities,” said Food & Water Action California State Director Alexandra Nagy. “The public would have an increased ability to advocate for investments in fire safety and local clean energy that would benefit ratepayers and the climate. In contrast to PG&E’s negligence, the Los Angeles municipally-owned utility just approved a historic  project that will provide clean solar energy and battery storage to more than 280,000 homes.”

The California Nurses Association also called on Governor Newsom to keep public health and safety at the forefront of his decisions.

“PG&E would be in prison, if it were a citizen, given how many people have died at its hands. We need Governor Newsom to take the utility’s failures more seriously than ever before as we push for a new direction that centers public health and safety and a concentration on more municipal power,” said Zenei Cortez, RN Co-President  of the California Nurses Association. 

The Local Clean Energy Alliance stressed the need to replace the investor-owned utility with one that puts the interests of communities and ratepayers first.

“Newsom’s efforts to shore up PG&E demonstrate the need for an alternative, public energy model, one that focuses on community-based control of energy, where the interests of low income people and communities of color—rather than corporate shareholders—are prioritized,” said Jessica Tovar, Energy Democracy Organizer, Local Clean Energy Alliance.

The groups join elected officials, like Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna, who are calling for a public takeover.

“When you have a state that has Apple, Google and Tesla in it, there’s no excuse for not getting power to our people,” said Khanna. “I’m calling on Gov. Newsom to support turning PG&E into a customer owned utility.  We need to have more municipal public utilities providing energy. We need state and federal investment in smart micro-grids with distributed power generation. We also need more federal resources in the state to deal with wildfires. California needs to be bold and take over PG&E.”

Governor Newsom has come under increasing pressure from multiple interests to put forward a plan for a publicly-owned utility to replace PG&E.