By Katherine Blunt
The City of San Francisco on Sunday said it has offered $2.5 billion to acquire PG&E Corp.'s electrical lines serving the city, a potential first step toward separating from the giant utility.
The offer is a significant escalation by San Francisco in its bid to create a municipal utility that is owned and operated by the city. The city began exploring the possibility of a public takeover after PG&E sought chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, citing more than $30 billion in potential liability costs stemming from its role in sparking a series of deadly wildfires in 2017 and 2018.
If the bid is accepted, it could significantly shrink PG&E, removing hundreds of miles of wire and siphoning off hundreds of thousands of customers. It is a public vote of no-confidence in PG&E, which has struggled to prevent its equipment from causing fires amid a sizable increase in wildfire risk in northern California.
Mayor London Breed and City Attorney Dennis Herrera said in a written statement that the city's offer is "competitive, fair and equitable." They added: "It will offer financial stability for PG&E, while helping the City expand upon our efforts to provide reliable, safe, clean and affordable electricity to the residents and businesses of San Francisco."
The offer, submitted as part of the bankruptcy process, comes after months of study by San Francisco's public utilities commission and board of supervisors. Ms. Breed told the company in March that the city would undertake an analysis to determine whether municipalization would benefit residents and what it might cost to acquire the electric assets.
PG&E said in a written statement that it will engage with the city on its offer.
"PG&E has been a part of San Francisco since the company's founding more than a century ago, and while we don't believe municipalization is in the best interests of our customers and stakeholders, we are committed to working with the City and will remain open to communication on this issue," it said.
--Jim Carlton contributed to this article.
Write to Katherine Blunt at Katherine.Blunt@wsj.com