Let the lawsuits begin!

PG & E (Pacific Gas and Electric) is our local power and gas company.  They pretty much cover the power needs of most of California.  This past week they got the bright idea to turn off everyone’s power for 24 hours. In the original warning (which they gave only about 8 hours ahead) they stated that the power outage might last up to five days.

Why?   Last year PG&E’s faulty equipment caused some fires in Northern California, including the now infamous Paradise fire, which wiped out an entire community.  Subsequently they were sued for billions (and have entered bankruptcy), and so in order to avoid such a catastrophe again, they have this new policy where if the winds get high, they turn everything off.

As California Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters these blackouts, while probably needed right now for safety reasons, didn’t need to happen,” if PG&E were managed halfway decently. For decades, PG&E diverted spending money from building out the infrastructure and maintaining old power lines to executives pockets and lobbyists fighting regulations. If PG&E had done what a business is supposed to do, they wouldn’t have found themselves in bankruptcy court. They wouldn’t find themselves losing liability cases seemingly every other day. They wouldn’t ask California legislators to try and cover their toxic business model under a too big to fail defense.

For a few years I lived in Oregon, specifically in Ashland, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. While living there I experienced the lowest electricity bills in my life.  Why?  Because the City of Ashland had the opportunity to purchase the power plant that served their city, and they took it! This is an example of how public ownership of a utility (Socialism) can benefit the public.  PG&E is an example of the more usual situation, where a huge greedy monopoly fills their pockets with the fortune of the public.
This is why I personally advocate public ownership of any commodity that is served by a monopoly and is essential to living. Further, I propose that Cities and Counties use their power of eminent domain to secure such monopolies.