The largest private employer in San Luis Obispo County recently paid its first installment of property taxes statewide and the County got one of the larger chunks of money.

Pacific Gas & Electric announced paying more than $268 million in first quarter property taxes, spreading the money over 50 counties where it owns property. PG&E serves some 16 million California customers with natural gas and/or electricity.
The company’s chief financial officer, controller, and vice-president, David Thomason said in a news release, “Property tax payments are one of the important ways PG&E helps drive local economies and supports essential public services like education and public safety.

“This year’s payments reflect the substantial local investments we continue to make in our gas and electric infrastructure to create a safer and more reliable system and to better mitigate against wildfires.”
The payments cover from July 1 through the end of December 2020, and the first installment of what PG&E said would total over $537 million by the end of the year on June 30. That’s an increase of nearly $28 million, or 5.5 percent, over the previous year (2019-2020), according to PG&E.

SLO County was paid $10.39 million, landing it at No. 8 on the Top-10 list. No. 1 was Santa Clara County at $33.32M; second was Alameda County, $32.4M; followed by Contra Costa, $21.49M; Fresno, $18.27M; San Mateo, $15.31M; San Francisco, $14.83M; San Joaquin, $14.83M; SLO, $10.39M; Kern, $9.77M; and, Sacramento County at $7.02M to round out the top recipients.
As a contrast, San Diego County got just $ 6,446; Lassen, $51,276; and Alpine, $80,500.

The company said it also provided $17.5M in community grants “to enhance local educational opportunities, preserve the environment, and support economic vitality and emergency preparedness.”

And PG&E is right now taking applications for its annual scholarship program for high school and college students, with more than 120 awards available totaling nearly $300,000.

Two employee groups within the company — the Employee Resource Group (ERG) and Engineering Network Group (ENG) — provided the money for the scholarships, which range from $1,000-$6,000 each, and honor “exemplary scholastic achievement and community leadership,” according to a news release. There are nearly 6,000 employees within the two groups.

A student’s primary residence must be within PG&E’s service area, essentially from SLO County to the Oregon Border.
The company said many past scholarships winners were the first in their families to attend college, and its scholarships are made more valuable this year after the country has suffered through the Coronavirus Pandemic and the response from government, including stay-at-home orders, distance learning in schools, and economic lockdowns that have crippled large segments of the economy.

“Our ERG scholarships,” Mary King, PG&E vice president of human resources and chief diversity officer, said, “take on even more importance this year because some of our applicants could’ve experienced financial challenges due to COVID-19. We’re proud to invest in these promising young people.”

Since their inception in 1989, more than $5 million in scholarships have been awarded to thousands of recipients.
“The funds are raised totally through employee donations, employee fundraising events and Campaign for the Community, the company’s employee giving program,” according to the news release.

PG&E ERG and ENG scholarship information, including criteria and applications, is available online at: www.pge.com. Applications must be submitted by Feb. 12 to be considered.