If the concept of the city of Fresno providing power for families and businesses instead of relying on PG&E sounds familiar, it should.
In 2019, Councilman Luis Chavez broached the idea. The city council committed $10,000 from the budget for a study, matched by a $50,000 grant from Community Choice Energy.
Somehow, things got lost in the shuffle.
“(The study) wasn’t provided to the council as a whole,” Chavez said.
The study, Chavez said, “got lost in translation” when Mayor Jerry Dyer took office in 2021.
“(Dyer) wasn’t there during those times. And a lot of the folks in the administration were also not there,” Chavez said.
The good news, Chavez, said, is that much of the work from the 2019 study can be used now.
“We’ve done a lot of the legwork and there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel,” Chavez said.
Another reason the study never got its due — a “surprise” visit from then-PG&E CEO Bill Johnson. Chavez said he promised PG&E would “do better” with rates for underserved communities.
“That never happened,” Chavez said.
How the City Can Provide its Own Power
Three years ago, with savings pegged at 20%, things didn’t pencil out, Chavez said. But, with savings estimated now at 35%, the city should be ready to act.
Chavez envisions the city providing its own power, and investing in green programs. The money could be used for incentives for residents to buy electric vehicles, tankless water heaters, and solar systems.
“What this would have done is essentially provide a lot of those green energy programs and services to people that are low income, that don’t have access to a lot of these (programs),” Chavez said.
He also says partnering with surrounding cities, like Kerman or Clovis, could help with economies of scale.
As far as producing power, Chavez said the city can save residents money by purchasing it on the private market, as opposed to relying on PG&E. The city would still use PG&E infrastructure (power lines, poles, transformers) to deliver energy to customers.
Also in Politics 101 …
- Why Jim Patterson supports Measure E;
- An update on the six marijuana lawsuits facing the city;
- Fresno housing chief appointed to a state board.
Assemblyman Patterson Explains Measure E Support
Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, has been one of the most consistent conservatives in Sacramento. But, he is one of the most visible supporters of a Fresno County sales tax hike to support Fresno State.
“The state of California has shortchanged Fresno State. Fresno State needs to have the kind of help that Measure E will do,” Patterson said.
Patterson criticized the Sacramento mindset that favors the Bay Area and Southern California to the detriment of the Central Valley. Not even his advocacy could get things done.
“It’s not appropriate to ask me why we can’t get funds from the state of California. It’s more appropriate to ask the Democrats why they are screwing us over and over again,” Patterson said.
Measure E would add 0.2% to the county sales tax, or one penny for every $5, “affordable” Patterson said. At least two-thirds of the funds would go toward education and scholarship programs. The remaining third could go toward athletics.
Asked why a staunch conservative is supporting a tax hike, Patterson talked about his support for Measure C, the transportation sales tax, and the Measure Z tax for the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.
“(As Fresno mayor) I had inherited a zoo that was in terrible shape. It was stuck in the politics of City Hall. And Measure Z freed it from that. Those impediments politically put it in the hands of people who really understood what was necessary to make a first-class zoo. And it was essentially a way to privatize with oversight and with a stream of resources. And look at the results. And I believe that Measure E has similar implications for Fresno State,” Patterson said.
The tax measure would last for 20 years and is estimated to raise $36 million annually.
The sole funder of Measure E is Richard F. Spencer & Affiliates, at $1.5 million. Spencer contributed $4,900 to Patterson’s 2022 Assembly re-election campaign. Karen Spencer, Richard’s wife, contributed another $4,900.
Fresno Council To Get Updates on Marijuana Retailer Lawsuits
One year after granting 21 licenses for marijuana stores in the city of Fresno, there are more lawsuits (6) than open retailers (2).
The Fresno City Council will receive an update on those six cases in closed session at its meeting Thursday.
The plaintiffs all make similar arguments — the city erred in its selection process granting licenses, and put them at an unfair advantage. All six lawsuits are in the preliminary stages.
The companies suing — some grouped into the same lawsuit because they have the same owner — include Atrium, The Green Door, Towertopia, SKG Trinity, Catalyst, Haven #20, The Artist Tree, and High Speed Healing.
The Artist Tree was able to open its other location in north Fresno. That retailer, plus Embarc in central Fresno, are the only stores open.
There are two permits yet to be granted — available after the previous holders lost appeals. There is no date when those slots will be filled.
Fresno Housing Chief Appointed to State Board
Fresno Housing Authority CEO Tyrone Roderick Williams will now lend his expertise to a state housing board.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Williams to the California Housing Finance Agency Board of Directors. The board oversees a program that helps renters and first-time homebuyers with financial assistance.
“I am humbled and honored to serve our state housing finance agency at this pivotal moment. We are facing unprecedented challenges, and the need for affordable housing opportunities has never been greater,” Williams said in a news release.
Williams, a 60-year-old Democrat, came to Fresno in 2021 after holding a similar position in Sacramento.
The job requires state Senate confirmation and pays $100 per diem.