Fantasy or a New Reality? How This Group Plans to ‘Fire SDG&E’

by MacKenzie Elmer at

Imagine this: Solar panels on every rooftop within the city of San Diego, sucking up energy from the sun and storing some for use at night. 

The city powers itself like an independent island in a sea of cities served by a for-profit utility, San Diego Gas & Electric. Lower electric delivery charges. No franchise fees.  

That’s how proponents for Power San Diego envision a future not-for-profit electric utility to replace SDG&E. Their foot soldiers are the clipboard-bearing activists patrolling outside Petco Park, Target stores and San Diego farmers markets this year, asking residents to “fire SDG&E,” in other words, join the island. 

The group needs 80,000 signatures to put the decision before voters in November. If it gets 24,000 by May 14, they could force a vote at the City Council to put it on the ballot. Without major funding, it will be a monumental volunteer undertaking and prospects already aren’t looking good.  

Some of its same champions tried to push San Diego into creating a public utility back in 2020 when the city considered renewing its contract with SDG&E, but it was largely ignored by the major players. This time around, the opposition doubled down. SDG&E executives formed a political action committee to fight the ballot measure. Labor unions that contract with the company turned out to condemn the public power movement at a City Council committee, which obliged to kill the measure.