Energy · Fresno

Fresno turning lights out on PG&E? Leaders eye city-run power in potential break from utility.

Fresno residents could soon receive their electricity from a city-owned power operator.

On Thursday, the Fresno City Council will decide whether or not to hire a consultant to perform a feasibility study for the city regarding what it would take to provide electricity to residents.

The item is sponsored by Mayor Jerry Dyer, Council Vice President Tyler Maxwell and Councilman Garry Bredefeld. 

The trio will hold a press conference at City Hall Monday to further detail the plan. 

“PG&E’s failure to energize local building projects is hurting City homebuyers, taxpayers and business owners. In short, our entire economy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there,” Dyer said in a statement. “Electricity costs are increasing exponentially, which is hurting the most disadvantaged among us. Reliability and customer confidence are suffering. At this critical juncture, I feel the City has no choice but to explore options such as forming a district to supply electricity to our residents and businesses.” 

This exploration comes after a tumultuous few years for PG&E. 

The utility filed for bankruptcy in 2019 and had paid over $180 million in wildfire damages settlements. 

PG&E has also requested the California Public Utilities Commission raise rates by 18 percent in 2023. 

“PG&E is a monopoly that has long ignored the needs of its customers and businesses. Their inability to electrify new housing developments has essentially created a moratorium in the City of Fresno. They are creating extensive economic damage to Fresno. They are non-responsive and unaccountable. This must change immediately. The City will now pursue every available option to bring accountability and meet the power and electrical needs of its residents and businesses,” Bredefeld said. 

Maxwell said, “Increasing the housing stock in Fresno is one of my top priorities as Councilmember. But with an ever-growing list of obstacles standing in the way of would-be housing developers, it’s time for our city to get serious about exploring concrete policies that will help cut the red tape. If we want to create more housing opportunities for our Fresno families, something’s got to change.”

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.