Stockton asked a superior court to validate its claim to buy Pacific Gas & Electric\u2019s wires and poles. In an April 29 filing in the San Joaquin Superior Court, Stockton seeks declaratory relief that its franchise agreement with the utility signed in 1954 requires PG&E to sell its electrical infrastructure to the city upon request. \u201cThe city\u2019s action is premature,\u201d said Nicole Tam, PG&E spokesperson. She added that the investor-owned utility was assessing whether the language in the franchise agreement, which allows the utility to operate in Stockton, creates a \u201cdefinitive right,\u201d or \u201ca reservation of a right.\u201d \u201cI have yet to hear a principle articulated by PG&E as to why it\u2019s not obligated to honor its commitment,\u201d said Howard Golub, senior attorney with Nixon Peabody, representing Stockton. The city began contemplating entering the electricity business a couple of years ago. It currently provides waste water and storm water services. A city council subcommittee was formed to examine the \u201ccomplexities and the opportunity\u201d involved in buying PG&E infrastructure to become an electricity provider. If the city ultimately decides to enter the power business, the franchise contract avoids the need to take over PG&E assets by a controversial eminent domain legal proceeding, according to the city attorney. It also does away with the need for approval from the Local Area Formation Commission. In addition, LAFCO approval is also not needed because the California Constitution explicitly gives cities the right to enter the power business, Golub said. Other muni efforts to enter the electricity business in PG&E service territory, including the South San Joaquin Irrigation District\u2019s, have stalled because of the failure to win LAFCO approval. Last week, an appellate court held the irrigation district, which is not covered by the constitutional provision, must abide by the local agency\u2019s decision. The franchise agreement states that Stockton reserves \u201cthe right to purchase upon six months notice\u201d PG&E\u2019s property. This provision was agreed to by both parties after the utility sought an open ended franchise agreement back in 1954 in place of one with a set expiration date. Under the agreement, the price of PG&E\u2019s distribution system is to be determined by the California Public Utilities Commission. If the CPUC bows out, then the fair market value will be decided by three selected appraisers--one chosen by the city, one by PG&E and the third chosen by the two parties. Tam asserted that if the city was found to have the right to buy utility assets, it could buy only part of the system. That is because some of PG&E\u2019s facilities, including substations, sit on PG&E land not covered by the franchise deal. If the city is successful in court it would conduct a full economic and engineering analysis. The estimated $1 million study would include an inventory of all PG&E property in Stockton. Stockton\u2019s neighbor, the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, is watching the developments closely. The same day Stockton filed for declaratory relief, the irrigation district\u2019s board met to discuss whether to appeal last week\u2019s appellate court ruling that it must abide by the LAFCO\u2019s ruling disapproving its application to expand its service to include retail electricity.