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Unusual Council Coalition Seeks Alternative to War with PG&E

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Fresno leaders will meet again with PG&E later this week. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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Less than a week after a discussion, but no resolution, members of the Fresno City Council met with Pacific Gas and Electric on Monday. More meetings are scheduled for later this week.

The main complaint from Mayor Jerry Dyer, other councilmembers, and the development community: delays in electrifying housing and commercial projects. Consequences of not providing power to new homes include homeowners losing out on lower mortgage rates.

Fresno councilmembers Miguel Arias and Mike Karbassi spoke on the phone with PG&E management “about the current situation regarding delayed electrification of critical housing projects, commercial spaces, and educational assets,” according to an Arias news release.

Last Thursday, the City Council delayed a proposal to hire a consultant — the first step for the city to bypass PG&E and provide or deliver its own electricity.

Both Arias and Karbassi voted for the delay. Arias, at the time, said the proposal was vague.

Another meeting is scheduled for Thursday. Arias and Karbassi will participate with Councilwoman-elect Annalisa Perea, state Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, State Center Chancellor Carole Goldsmith, and PG&E management.

Arias and Karbassi say the goal is “to establish a 60-day action plan to address our city’s top priority projects for rapid electrification.”

City leaders and PG&E are also met at the Fresno City College west campus today for a closed-door meeting and tour.

A Follow-Up to Council Debate

The two-hour council debate last week saw unusual allegiances on the city dais.

Councilman Garry Bredefeld, the most conservative councilmember and most outspoken against the expansion of government, said he trusted the city to run the electric grid more than PG&E.

Bredefeld constantly criticized PG&E’s record, often bringing up the company’s legal woes.

He was joined by Councilman Tyler Maxwell, part of the council’s liberal bloc of four. Maxwell, a housing advocate, was concerned about how PG&E delays affected the city’s homebuilding problems. He emphasized on the dais that the vote was to hire a consultant, and not make any final decision.

Councilman Luis Chavez also favored hiring a consultant.

Arias and Karbassi were joined by Nelson Esparza and Esmeralda Soria in delaying any decision. Karbassi often sides with Bredefeld on the most contentious of city issues; Maxwell often joins Arias, Esparza and Soria.

“Our current situation in getting homes and buildings electrified within the City of Fresno is at a critical moment. Last week’s lengthy debate about a hypothetical, multi-billion-dollar government takeover of electric service did nothing to turn on a single new light bulb in our city. The only pathway to solving these problems immediately is working with our local utility and focusing efforts on rapidly bringing these properties on-line. We are grateful to open a dialogue between PG&E’s highest leadership and the Fresno City Council,” Arias and Karbassi said in a news release.

Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email