Todd Gloria takes the oath of office from California Senate President Toni Atkins in a virtual ceremony. Photo courtesy of Gloria’s office

Newly sworn-in Mayor Todd Gloria announced Tuesday he is calling on the City Council to hold a special meeting to open submitted bids for the city’s gas and electric services.

The existing franchise agreements between the city and San Diego Gas & Electric began in 1970 are set to expire in January 2021. SDG&E, whose parent company is San Diego-based Sempra Energy, has been the sole electric and gas utility for San Diego since 1920.

“I am committed to a deliberate and thorough review of this complex issue that will affect every San Diego household and business in the city for the years to come,” Gloria said. “The public deserves to know what bids have been submitted. We must ensure that we do not squander this once-in-a- generation opportunity to help meet the city’s climate goals and protect ratepayers.”

The request from Gloria for the special council meeting is not intended to call on councilmembers to approve an agreement. Rather, he said he is requesting an informational item to provide an open forum for the public to better understand what bids have been submitted.

Former Mayor Kevin Faulconer opened the bidding period on the contracts Sept. 23. Unlike in 1970, SDG&E isn’t the only company interested. Berkshire Hathaway and Indian Energy have both expressed interest.

Additionally, a call for the city to municipalize the franchise agreements is swelling, and could prove attractive to newly-elected council members.

Many residents, business owners and city leaders have spoken at council meetings over the past year, contending another 50-year contract is too long. Faulconer’s recommendations for bids stipulated 20-year franchise agreements, which his office says will provide revenue of more than $1.4 billion. Others, including SDG&E employees, have urged the city to stick with the company and infrastructure it knows and is used to operating and maintaining.

The Invitation to Bid outlined that the selected utility must make good faith efforts to help the city achieve its Climate Action Plan and Climate Equity Index goals. It also included performance audits of the utility every two years.

Once the bids have been opened and reviewed, Gloria will work with City Attorney Mara Elliott to determine the next steps.

–City News Service