Over the last month, the City of San Diego hosted a series of community forums collecting feedback from residents on what they want in the upcoming electric and gas Franchise Agreements. A dozen forums to be precise.
Of course, I went to all of them, and heard consistent themes, desired outcomes, and specific terms from the public. Keep reading for the three major takeaways:
1. Residents Want The City To Hold SDG&E Accountable
Residents are frustrated with our current utility, SDG&E, after 50 years of rising, sky-high energy bills and countless attempts to undermine our community, climate and equity goals.
What they want to see: Community members want to see the City finally hold SDG&E accountable, or ditch them altogether. They made it abundantly clear that decade-long contracts are off the table and emphasized the need for short-term electric and gas Franchise Agreements and a robust study of public power.
2. The Community Is Begging For San Diego To Lead On Climate
For too long, the City has let SDG&E get away with extreme rate hikes and blatant contract violations. Allowing SDG&E to have full control over our energy systems had led to palpable community anger and frustration.
What they want to see: The Mayor and Council must restore the community’s trust in government by acting on their behalf, not SDG&E’s. One critical outcome that the community called for is building a plan to transition off fossil fuels entirely, including dangerous, climate-warming natural gas.
3. San Diego Families Want The City To Prioritize The Community, Not Corporate Profits
Profit-driven SDG&E has left San Diegans vulnerable to rate hikes, toxic air pollution, and the climate crisis. Residents want SDG&E to do more for them, not their shareholders.
What they want to see: Residents called for equity and justice as important outcomes of the Franchise Agreements. They wanted a framework of terms mandating SDG&E to do things that center the needs of the community like halting rate hikes, cooperating on our clean energy and Climate Action Plan goals, reducing indoor air pollution from methane gas, and providing ironclad protections for good union utility jobs.
Overall, the Mayor and Council deserve kudos for their outreach. It allowed the community to engage on an issue that, until recently, was a backroom deal, brokered by SDG&E’s army of lobbyists and lawyers. Now we get to see if our leaders will listen and act.