90% of Bay Area residents want to end PG&E's existing operations, poll finds

Julian Glover Image
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
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There's growing support to break up PG&E as the company deals with multiple scandals and bankruptcy, according to a poll.

The majority of Bay Area residents support getting rid of or restructuring Pacific Gas and Electric as the bankrupt utility company grapples with how to pay out $13.5 billion in settlements.

The poll conducted by the LA Times and UC Berkeley's Institute of Government Studies surveyed thousands of Californians in November with 840 respondents in the Bay Area.

Roughly 23 percent of those surveyed in the San Francisco metro support breaking the company into smaller non-profit cooperatives run by local cities and counties, with each responsible for fixing problems in their coverage area.

Another 23 percent support ending PG&E as an investor-owned utility and are in favor of converting it into a state agency.

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ABC 7 spoke to San Jose resident Ryan Johnson who says he's frustrated by the utility company.

"I think it's somewhat ridiculous that big portions of the Bay have to go without power for a week at a time," said Johnson.

The new poll is being published at a time when support is growing for San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo's proposals to turn PG&E into a customer-owned co-op. The mayor's plan has been endorsed by more than 110 elected officials from 58 cities and 10 counties across the state.

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PG&E customer Vispi Daver says he was sparred by the last wave of blackouts, but is in support of the company being broken up.

"I'm all for having more options..." said Daver. "As consumers we should have options." He admits, however, he's not sure what those options should look like.

Firras Salameh told ABC 7 the company needs to invest. "Hire more people. Get stuff done. Trim the trees back," said Salameh.

Only 7 percent of people surveyed support selling either all or part of PG&E to another utility, subject to state approval. While another 10 percent support the idea of breaking PG&E into two separate companies: one handling gas and the other in charge of electricity.

Just 1-in-10 residents in the Bay Area want PG&E to continue operating as-is once it emerges from bankruptcy.

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