Trinity County's Takeover of PG&E Power Grid Illustrates Promise and Perils of Public Ownership

Local news
This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Trinity County did in the 1990s what Gov. Gavin Newsom is threatening to do today: It wrested control of the power grid from Pacific Gas & Electric.

The origin story of Trinity Public Utilities District, which now serves several thousand customers in Northern California, is an encouraging precedent for advocates of replacing PG&E with a government-run utility. Trinity customers pay half as much for electricity as PG&E customers do. The public utility’s rates, set by a locally elected board, have hardly changed over the years.

At the same time, Trinity faces several lawsuits and $138 million in claims stemming from a 2017 wildfire — the same type of financial liability that landed PG&E in bankruptcy court. Trinity is contesting those claims, saying its equipment didn’t cause the fire.

As Newsom considers a government takeover of PG&E, Trinity’s experience illustrates both the promise and the perils of public ownership. Although the potential benefits are significant, there’s no guarantee a government entity could provide safer, cleaner or cheaper electricity than the reviled company it replaces.

Most Popular

Latest News

More News

KTLA on Instagram


KTLA on Facebook

KTLA on Twitter