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Morning Report: If Power Went Public

Power lines in San Diego
Image via Shutterstock

San Diego Gas and Electric has supplied San Diego with power for more than a century now. But that contract ends next month, and officials have a choice: Extend a new decades-long power contract to a private utility, municipalize or pursue another option that hasn’t yet come to light.

Local advocacy groups have long argued that a power company owned by the people could be more efficient and save taxpayers money. In our new series, Rethinking San Diego, MacKenzie Elmer explores the benefits and drawbacks of a publicly owned power company [1]

“If the customers owned the utility, advocates think whatever money investors pocket as a result of their business with San Diego could come back to the community in the form of rate cuts or efficiency programs,” Elmer writes.

But it wouldn’t be easy. The city would need to buy SDG&E’s massively expensive system of poles, wires, gas lines and other assets — among other hurdles.

San Diego Has Yet Another Prison Outbreak

Richard J. Donovan state prison, which is located in San Diego County, has recently experienced a surge in coronavirus cases. As of Tuesday afternoon, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported 411 active cases among people incarcerated [2] in the facility and 71 active employee cases [3].

Attorneys with clients in the facility, people incarcerated there and staff have long been warning [4] that Donovan was at risk for a COVID-19 outbreak.

The outbreak at the state prison now means that effectively every agency that incarcerates people in San Diego County – be it federal, state or local – has experienced an outbreak in at least one of its facilities, if not in multiple facilities. All of these outbreaks have many things in common [5] when it comes to why they happened or how they were managed, according to several experts we spoke with earlier this month. 

Speaking of the Virus …

We wanted to know what scientists and doctors have learned in the past few months. Do local and state health guidelines align with current science? What activities would they consider to be the safest or most risky?

UC San Diego infectious disease specialist Dr. Robert Schooley and Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist Kim Prather answered these questions and more on our livestreams series Voice of San Diego at Home last week. They also shared tips on how we can better protect ourselves, the latest on school reopening efforts and what they think local officials should focus on in the coming months.

Read all of the highlights from that conversation here [6].

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood and Maya Srikrishnan, and edited by Sara Libby.