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PG&E puts charitable giving program on hold amid bankruptcy

Posted at 5:53 PM, Jan 29, 2019

With its bankruptcy filing, PG&E says its donations to charities are now on hold.

PG&E has donated more than $100 million to community organizations since 2000. This includes $28 million since 2018.

The PG&E grants are widespread and many nonprofits on the Central Coast have benefited, including Mission Community Services Corporation in San Luis Obispo.

“As a nonprofit, we rely on grants 100 percent for our operations,” said Director Chuck Jehle.

Jehle explained that they help women and men start and grow their own businesses.

In 2016, they received a $20,000 economic vitality grant from PG&E.

“PG&E’s grant was very helpful that year because we were coming up short,” Jehle said. “And that helped us do one additional class in English (and) one additional class in Spanish that year. Without that, we wouldn’t have been able to do those.”

He says that equated to the creation of five businesses and another ten jobs.

Tracy Sonny is one of the success stories from those classes. She started her boutique shop, The Hive, in Arroyo Grande.

“It was outstanding, that’s all I have to say. From the beginning to the end and the passion and everybody that works with you – unbelievable,” she said.

That year, the utility awarded a total of $200,000 to 10 local community organizations, all part of its Better Together Giving program.

But now, on a webpage normally geared toward taking grant applications, PG&E wrote: “In light of the current situation, the utility’s community giving programs must be re-evaluated and are currently on hold.”

“It means we need to start over and look for some other funding,” Jehle said. “We’re very thankful to PG&E and hope that’ll come back around once all the things are taken care of.”

PG&E has donated thousands of dollars to local scholarships, the American Red Cross, and the San Luis Obispo County Food Bank, among others.

SLO Food Bank CEO Kevin Drabinski issued this statement: “For a generation, PG&E has financially supported the mission of many nonprofits in the county. It is understandable that they are withdrawing that support at this time. However, the women and men who work for PG&E have always supported these same nonprofits and the food bank with extensive volunteer support and advocacy. We are encouraged that this critical, non-monetary support, will continue for many years in the future.”