Apparently quite a bit was going on behind the scenes this week while as many as two million Californians struggled with the PG&E power outages (with which plenty of them are still struggling). A secret deal was apparently on the table, as the Chronicle reports in late-breaking news that the city of San Francisco offered to buy PG&E’s local power lines — but PG&E turned the offer down.
The company’s CEO Bill Johnson explained in a letter obtained by the Chronicle that “Our San Francisco-based facilities are not for sale and to do so would not be consistent with our charter to operate our mission to serve Northern and Central California communities.” He also said that selling the lines would “unnecessarily and unfairly pass a large amount of costs” on to customers elsewhere. Oh, and you know PG&E would just hate to pass costs on to customers.
The offer was apparently coordinated by Mayor Breed and City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who published a Chronicle op-ed today explaining their rationale. “This offer is good for San Francisco, good for wildfire victims, good for PG&E’s remaining customers and good for PG&E,” they said. “The $2.5 billion is an attractive price that reflects more than PG&E would likely get outside of the bankruptcy process.”
And PG&E is only compounding their woes, and probably lowering any bankruptcy offers, as news also breaks from the Chronicle that executives held a lavish party in Sonoma County literally on the eve of the blackouts. The Chron reports the party, at the Silver Oak Winery near Healdsburg, was attended by about 12 executives from PG&E’s natural gas division, and 50-60 of the utility’s highest-paying customers.
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors chairperson fumed to the Chronicle that, “Obviously, I take it that those who arranged this were not from Sonoma and not in tune with the way that people feel in the county on that particular day.”
This is the same Sonoma County that suffered through the 2017 Tubbs Fire, for which PG&E was quite possibly at fault.