Another Valley city, Bakersfield, mulls pinching PG&E

Is Bakersfield going the way of Havana or China?  It looks like the city is willing to kill off private utilities and have the government own the means of electricity.  That is called socialism—and it has never worked.  In Orange County they tried it—and now almost all the cities have dropped out or about to drop out.  They found incompetence and corruption in the government system.  But, wherever government is, you will find incompetence and corruption.  So it is no surprise.

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Here is how it works.  Using tax dollars the government energy company undercuts the cost of energy and forces private firms out.  Once it has a monopoly, prices go up, rationing can occur and government controls our lives via control of energy.

I never thought Orange County would go socialist—but it did—and now they regret it and repealing it.  Will Bakersfield have to lose its energy before it regains its freedom?

Another Valley city mulls pinching PG&E

Bakersfield isn’t embracing the government takeover route once considered by Fresno lawmakers, but a study could help customers or implode.

BY REID STONE, The Sun,  5/21/23

As PG&E faces pushback from local municipalities over rising energy rates, another Valley community is plowing ahead with a study into alternative energy provider options.

Despite dipping a toe in the water of shaking up the residential energy market, the City of Bakersfield is entering an upcoming study fully aware of the benefits and drawbacks of one key option.

Driving the news: Bakersfield lawmakers voted to study the feasibility of creating or joining an electricity retailer called a community choice aggregation (CCA) to gain greater local control over where residents and businesses get their power from and how much they pay for it.

  • CCAs have won over 200 cities and 20 counties around California but present significant risks as well as benefits, with no promise they will match the prices already offered locally by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E).
  • Savings relative to PG&E’s rates can be expected to range between 2% and 9% — at least for a CCA’s minority portion of a customer’s total electric bill.
  • Customers would still be subject to tier-based pricing, in which their price per unit of energy increases along with consumption. PG&E’s low-income and medical-based discounts would remain, though incentive programs like peak-day pricing would not.
  • The feasibility study is expected to cost about $50,000, which city staff said will be paid out of the city’s general fund. The report is expected to be ready in four to six months. Setting up a CCA for Bakersfield would take an estimated 18 months to two years.
  • The City of Fresno, whose Mayor has led a public war of words with the state’s largest investor-owned utility, sought to initiate a study for a wider array of options – from CCA to outright municipalization of power service.
  • Fresno is expected to reconsider initiating the study, which is expected to cost taxpayers more than $250,000.

A mixed record: CCA’s results have varied since the state Legislature passed a law in 2002 spelling out how they’re formed and operated. They can save ratepayers money, and often do, but supporters say that’s less of a driving factor than the flexibility CCAs offer for investing more heavily in renewable energy.

  • Residents are automatically enrolled if their city adopts a CCA — but they’re allowed to opt out and rejoin their old utility if rates go too high, for example.
  • Big decisions would be made by a local commission or board, perhaps the City Council. The CCA would function with greater independence than a municipal utility. In principle, the city’s general fund would not be liable for the organization’s financial performance.
  • If Bakersfield ultimately goes with a CCA, San Francisco-based PG&E would continue to handle billing and charge local customers for power transmission and distribution. On top of that comes their share of the electricity generation the company has already contracted on their behalf years into the future, which is typically a considerable share of the monthly bill.
  • CCAs weaknesses , as illustrated by Riverside County-based Western Community Energy, hewing too heavily toward maintaining customer savings may risk the provider’s ability to weather energy price shocks.
  • Along with high delinquencies during the coronavirus pandemic, WCE failed to raise its rates quickly enough to keep up with its own costs — owing to the fact that it sought to undercut the pricing of its for-profit competition.

What they’re saying: Following presentations from New Jersey-based CCA advocate The Climate Center, Bakersfield City Councilman Bruce Freeman said that he would closely evaluate the study before initiating any decision on initiating a new energy option, alleging that some elements of the pitch were “borderline misleading.”

  • “If we did this and it goofs up, that would be a black eye for the City Council and the city manager,” Freeman said, per The Bakersfield Californian.
About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.


  1. Steven Spatola says

    Don’t fix what ain’t broke. I tried an alternative to PG&E but went back becuase the rates crept above PG&E.

    On another twist, a few years ago Stockton sold it’s city water treatment plant to an outside group. Soon, it was in financial trouble and Stockton resumed (buying it back at a higher cost) the providing of water to city customers. It seemed to work well before the sale, but during the heyday of out-sourcing, the politicians tried what doesn’t work. This is especially true of utilities where the bureaucrats don’t know mangement (it is inherent in government), and can’t keep up with the all important maintneance aspects either.

  2. Really??? says

    PG&E and So. Cal. Gas have a hybrid product that is Carbon Neutral.

    So now that bogyman is done what will the excuse be for forcing private industry out?

    If you are carbon neutral what will be the excuse by the Socialist?

  3. SANDRA NEEDS says

    You are overlooking a real success story: Santa Clara, the heart of Silicon Valley. Santa Clara has a long tradition of quality public services and a well-maintained infrastructure. The City has owned and operated its own electric, water and sewer utilities for over a century. Lower utility rates and high standards of service have encouraged the relocation and growth of businesses. I lived there right next to Sunnyvale, whose PG&E rates were higher and whose service frequently went black. I had the lights go out one time in over 25 years and that was due to a major regional event the Loma Prieto Earthquake.

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