California homebuilders have a reason for optimism. In July, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) signed an MOU with the California Building Industry Association (CBIA) to make a series of process improvements to help housing projects get completed faster. The MOU comes after homebuilders across the state expressed their growing frustration with PG&E’s failure to efficiently connect their housing projects to the power grid.
Getting a housing project approved and entitled is already arduous enough in California. Utility companies like PG&E — often cited as the worst offender — make the homebuilding process even more difficult by adding delays, costs, and uncertainty. From the initial application to final hookups, countless homebuilders have described PG&E to me as their “single largest, most consistent problem.”
To that end, in 2022, HAC collaborated with Senator Scott Wiener to co-sponsor Senate Bill 83 with the Construction Employers Association (CEA). Under SB 83, utility companies would have to adhere to an eight-week timeline to connect newly constructed buildings to the grid. While the bill died in the legislative process, parallel efforts from CBIA led to the MOU which provides the opportunity to have a positive impact for HAC members as well.
Of the items within the MOU that HAC is hoping will make an immediate impact: are certified, third-party reviewers to help work through backlogs, updates to the scheduling process, and improved communication between the utility companies and builders.
While the MOU is non-binding, other efforts in the legislature like HAC endorsed Senate Bill 410 put a spotlight on PG&E and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to improve this problem. The CPUC is the regulatory agency that oversees PG&E and the HAC will continue to work with the Commission and others to help ensure the MOU is executed.
We thank CBIA for their leadership on this issue and for PG&E’s leadership working to improve their process. This problem is complicated and we will keep you apprised as things move forward. If HAC members ever have questions, feel free to reach out at any time.