Environmental and Other Groups Push Council to Bar SDG&E From Bidding on New Utility Franchise Due to Breach of its Current Agreement

by on May 10, 2021 · 0 comments

in Energy, San Diego

A coalition of sorts of a group of environmental and nonprofit groups want the San Diego City Council to bar SDG&E from bidding on any new utility franchise agreements. In a letter addressed to all Council members sent last week, the group is pushing the Council to hold a hearing to discuss whether the utility giant can be debarred from bidding.

The letter asks the Council to hold a Debarment Proceedings Against SDG&E as soon as possible. Items are placed on the Council docket by the council president, Jen Campbell, who has not committed at this point in doing so.

The groups state that since SDG&E has been in material breach of its current franchise agreement with the City, it cannot by law bid on any new agreements.

Sonja Robinson, program manager for the Protect Our Communities Foundation, one of the organizations that sent the letter told the Union-Tribune:

“Our request is for a full-fledged discussion as an informational item so the facts are heard. And if it is determined that SDG&E is in breach over the material terms of the franchise agreement, then it is within the city of San Diego’s municipal code to debar them.”

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported:

… the city has taken SDG&E to court over utility equipment that obstructed the city’s Pure Water San Diego Program, which is designed to reduce ocean pollution and increase San Diego’s water supply.

The city says Section 8 of the franchise agreement requires SDG&E to pay to move the equipment and seeks to be reimbursed $35.6 million the city paid under protest to move the project along. The utility says it’s unfair that SDG&E customers who live outside of the city and do not benefit from the project should share in the move’s expense. The case is pending in superior court.

The short letter from the groups states that because the utility has not paid the city, SDG&E “has breached a material term of the franchise agreements.” And according to the city municipal code, a material breach would “constitute grounds for debarment for three years or more” and should prohibit SDG&E from bidding on a new deal with the city.

Other groups that signed the letter, besides Protect Our Communities Foundation, include the Sunrise Movement San Diego, the Racial Justice Coalition San Diego, Democratic Socialists of San Diego, the Environmental Center of San Diego, the Citizens Franchise Alliance, Indivisible Change Begins With Me, Activist San Diego and the San Diego Progressive Democratic Club.

The U-T reported: “All nine groups are in favor of the city establishing its own municipally run utility that would deliver electric and gas services to residents, replacing SDG&E.”


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