California senator to propose bill to make PG&E publicly-owned

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- State Sen. Scott Wiener said soon he will propose a bill to make Pacific Gas & Electric a publicly-owned utility.

"For too many years this company has catered to the need of Wall Street and its shareholders,” Sen. Wiener, D-San Francisco, said. “PG&E has not done what it needs to do to keep its infrastructure updated and we're all paying the consequences now."

Wiener's proposal comes as numerous local governments across Northern California aim to purchase and take control of PG&E's equipment.

Wiener said PG&E's assets could stay together or be broken up into multiple public utilities across the state. He said he's still working out details of the bill.

PG&E's CEO Bill Johnson has said he thinks the best thing for customers would be to keep the utility intact.

Wiener said he understands that point of view.

"It has so many unending miles. It's been challenging to maintain it,” he said. “There is an argument to break it up. There is an advantage to keeping it together."

Wiener’s is one of several proposals lawmakers have presented since PG&E intentionally cut power to millions of customers last month while juggling a bankruptcy over lost lives and property in fires it caused.

Wiener said he's not trying to step on any other ideas but hopes to start an important discussion.

"The legislature and the governor and Public Utilities Commission, we're all going to have to work collaboratively to resolve this situation,” Wiener said. “There will be a lot of different views. I just want to make sure public power is in that conversation."

Wiener is one of a committee of senators summoning regulators and PG&E leaders to the Capitol next week for an investigative hearing, where even more ideas could surface.

 

Ashley Zavala filed this report.

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