New Mayor and Council to Review Bids for City’s Utility Franchise Thursday, Dec.17

by on December 16, 2020 · 3 comments

in Energy, San Diego

This Thursday, December 17, newly-elected Mayor Todd Gloria and the newly-seated City Council will review just from whom and what bids have been made for San Diego’s electric and gas franchise agreements.

The Council will not be making any decisions, however, on granting any franchises. There is no vote – and the agenda item is listed solely as an “informational” one.

The old franchise agreements run out on January 17, 2021. They’ve been held, of course, by San Diego Gas & Electric. The current one was granted in 1970, and SDG&E had held the earlier 50-year agreement. So, that’s one hundred years that the company has had a monopoly here in San Diego. A lot of people think it’s time for a change, where the utility company with the franchise places the residents and businesses of the city at the top of whomever it serves – not its investors.

Gloria, on Tuesday, called for the Council to have a meeting to disclose the bid or bids, and Jen Campbell, the new council prez, put it on Thursday’s agenda. Gloria’s office said Thursday’s meeting is not designed for the City Council to approve a potential agreement but to “provide an open forum for the public to better understand what bids have been submitted.”

Former mayor Faulconer had hoped the former city council and mayor would have made this momentous decision, but then council prez, on her way out the door, had the wisdom to kick the issue to the new council. Faulconer – it was speculated – favored SDG&E again this time around, and wanted the new agreements to be part of his legacy from San Diego as he mounts his campaign of governor.

Of course, there’s been a lot of political maneuvering around who gets this plum. It’s a lot of dough, it’s a big, big deal. A city consultant estimated that over a 20-year term, a new franchise agreement is worth at least $6.4 billion in profit to the company that wins it. But some say the deal is worth more than twice that.

Environmental groups and others have called for San Diego to oversee its own electric and gas services by forming a municipal power company, such as the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. They ask, ‘why should a private company get to favor its stock holders over the public?’

The OB Rag has been following this issue, of late. See these:

Also, here’s a link to today’s San Diego Union-Tribute piece and a link to a Voice of San Diego analysis on what a public power company would look like.

Please see the link here for the Special Agenda Memorandum for Thursday, December 17, 2020.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Will December 16, 2020 at 1:48 pm

I am thankful that there appears to a more open and investigative process in choosing how we create electricity. Why would we grant a monopoly to a for-profit institution when there are so many examples in how to do this in a more cost-effective and ethical way? I appreciate former-councilmember Gomez’s thoughtfulness in this manner. Not sure why granting a for-profit business a 50-year power monopoly was so important for Faulconer to accomplish during the lame duck session.


Don Wood December 17, 2020 at 1:35 pm

Maybe because he wants Sempra to help bankroll his run for governor?


Frank Gormlie December 17, 2020 at 3:38 pm

Just one bid was received for San Diego’s next utility franchise agreement — a minimum $80 million offer from San Diego Gas & Electric to provide the city’s gas and electric utilities for the next 20 years, it was revealed Thursday at a special meeting of the City Council. Times of San Diego


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