OAKLAND — After a report suggested the East Bay Municipal Utility District could beat Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s rates, the public utility is considering adding electricity to the water and sewer service it provides to 1.3 million customers.
The EBMUD board voted unanimously Wednesday to continue its expansion study to determine whether it should resemble utilities that provide residents with a variety of services, such as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Alameda Power and Telecom.
The study, by consultants R.W. Beck, Inc., proposed three pathways EBMUD could take.
—It could buy electricity and use PG&E to deliver it, though the arrangement called aggregation, is currently prohibited by state law.
—It could offer renewable sources of electricity, such as wind and solar power.
—It could take over PG&E’s East Bay infrastructure and generate and sell its own electricity.
PG&E would support the first two efforts but opposes the third, said PG&E spokesman Jason Alderman. The utility helped defeat two ballot measures in San Francisco last year that would have created public power agencies.
The board has spent $100,000 studying the issue, but still has no estimates of how much the undertaking would cost or how it could be financed. Critics urged EBMUD to stop spending money and focus on its current role — providing water to much of Alameda and Contra Costa counties.
“Others have tried this and failed miserably,” William Glass, a San Leandro developer, told the board. “Focus on what you do best.”
Customers have asked EBMUD to consider becoming an electricity provider rather than relying on PG&E after soaring power costs last year prompted state energy regulators to issues record electric rate hikes.
“There is no better institution to do this than EBMUD,” said Cynthia Cohen of Berkeley, a longtime public power advocate. “They’ve got the experience.”