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.