PG&E tells local officials bankruptcy filing won’t affect energy rates

Pacific Gas & Electric Corp., the country’s largest utility, announced Monday it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy — a move that creates uncertainty as to whether Humboldt County energy ratepayers will be affected.

PG&E currently faces $30 billion in potential damages from litigation over a series of wildfires in California during 2017 and 2018. Many were killed and thousands of structures were destroyed.

“The number one priority must be to protect ratepayers and fire survivors,” state Sen. Mike McGuire said in a statement. “We must ensure PG&E doesn’t miss a beat with their electric and gas contracts and we must have survivors at the top of mind to make sure they are taken care of every step of the way.”

The Redwood Coast Energy Authority Board of Directors will receive an update Jan. 28 as to how the filing will impact local energy rates. The board has already heard from PG&E, which said the utility’s bankruptcy won’t change rates “in any way,” RCEA board member and 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell told the Times-Standard.

“We’re working with PG&E and (Community Choice Aggregators) to find out in the long term how they’re going to resolve PG&E’s role in the provision of power,” Fennell said.

The California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees all state utilities, could possibly look at a restructuring, Fennell suggested.

Locally, PG&E owns multiple Eel River dams and over 5,000 acres of land in the area, which the utility was using for the Potter Valley energy project. In September, the utility began seeking to auction off the parcels associated with the project.

Rep. Jared Huffman said the utility’s status will be a state issue and out of his purview, but he added that it’s “hard to imagine” that the bankruptcy won’t affect ratepayers at some level, given the scale of liability.

“As we work through this issue — and I have no idea how it ends relative to PG&E solvency — we have to confront this bigger issue of climate change and disaster preparedness,” Huffman said. “Whatever happens in the PG&E bankruptcy, I think we’re going to need to look at creative reforms so we don’t have mass firestorms caused by failed power supplies and dry conditions.”

Shomik Mukherjee can be reached at 707-441-0504. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


PG&E tells local officials bankruptcy filing won’t affect energy rates, by Shomik Mukherjee, Times Standard, January 14, 2019.

Humboldt County Airport May Get Solar Microgrid

Update 10/10/17:

MCKINLEYVILLE – The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors are hoping a green idea takes off at the Humboldt County airport in McKinleyville.

During their meeting today, the board signed a letter to the California Energy Commission asking for funding to build a solar microgrid on nine acres of airport grounds.

The multi-million dollar project could save the airport 65% on its energy bill annually, which comes out to about $60,000 a year.

For now, the county is putting $15,000 towards the cost of environmental review for the project.

If it does move forward, surrounding local residents could also access the clean energy through the Redwood Coast Energy Authority’s Community Choice Energy program.

Humboldt Supervisors Request Funding for Solar Power at Airport, by Staff, KIEM, October 10, 2017.


MCKINLEYVILLE – The California Redwood Coast Humboldt County Airport in McKinleyville may be getting a green upgrade.

It’s still all ‘up in the air’, but the Public Works Aviation Division wants to partner with Humboldt State’s Schatz Energy Research Center and the Redwood Coast Energy Authority to install a solar microgrid on nine acres within airport grounds.

The energy produced would benefit the airport and the surrounding community, and estimates show the airport could reach up to $60,000 in electricity savings annually if the project moves forward.

Funding is being requested through the California Energy Commission – between 2 to 5 million dollars’ worth.

On Tuesday, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors intends on signing a letter of commitment during their regular meeting addressed to the California Energy Commission to support the cause.

Also during their meeting, the board plans on holding a closed session to consider public employee performance evaluations for the county’s Human Resources Director, Administrative Officer, and the Public Defender.

The Public Administrator’s Office has been under investigation for possible misconduct stretching back to 2015 regarding sales of estate property being sold to past and current county employees.

Public Defender David Marcus has been controversial since he started in February – with all nine deputy public defenders sending a letter to the board in March, asking them to reconsider his hire and claiming he is unqualified.

More recently, visiting Judge Marjorie Carter ruled a lawsuit against his hiring could go forward.

The first part of the meeting that is open to the public starts tomorrow morning at 9AM in the Humboldt County Courthouse Board Chambers.

Humboldt County Airport May Get Solar Microgrid, by Staff, KIEM, October 9, 2017.