Ballot initiative wants to replace SDG&E, lower electricity rates

Ballot initiative wants to replace SDG&E, lower electricity rates
Posted at 8:04 PM, Dec 07, 2023

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Chloe Baird in University Heights keeps a detailed budget. In it, she accounts for her dog, her apartment, and most importantly her electric bills.

"It's always a category that I've never been able to budget out for or predict," Baird said.

Baird says her electric bills have recently gotten more expensive.

She's avoided using most lights in her apartment, but says it doesn't make a difference.

"I've just had no choice then to accept whatever rate they give me," Baird said. "That's just frustrating not being able to have a choice in anything or have a voice at all."

Power San Diego is group that wants to respond to those frustrations.

They launched a ballot initiative that ask voters replace the for-profit SDG&E with a municipal not-for-profit utility.

The not-for-profit utility would handle electric distribution for people living in San Diego, and create a department to manage it.

"Having ownership of the poles and wires in San Diego allows us to not have to pay SDG&E for these delivery costs," said Dorrie Bruggeman, the campaign manager for the initiative.

Bruggeman claims San Diegans would save around 20% on their utility bills right away, and by 2042 she says city customers would save a total of $20 billion.

"If we switch to a public utility, they will immediately be able to see lower rates," Bruggeman said.

Bruggeman estimates it would initially cost $3.6 billion to do this. That would be paid off by customers over 30 years. The high start up costs deterred Chicago from creating a public utility, but Bruggeman says there are 46 cities where a similar model exists, including Los Angeles and Sacramento.

"We know this is a model that works for small cities and large cities and we know it could work for San Diego because the data supports that."

SDG&E says this initiative presents serious financial risks. In a statement, Communications Director Anthony Wagner wrote: "Pushing a flawed ballot measure that presents serious financial risks to the city and taxpayers is a dangerous precedent. This move places the safety and reliability of the power grid in jeopardy. We are confident SDG&E remains the best option for San Diego customers, given our outstanding safety record, climate innovation and unmatched reliability."