Eber: Behind the Utility induced Blackouts

According to the Wall Street Journal, the State of California mandates that PG&E loses $2.2 billion on the purchase of green energy, electric vehicles and solar programs.  Instead of having the funds to modernize its grid system, government demands a private company spend money on technologies that make no sense, are not reliable and take away assets from needed   

“In addition there is an antagonistic attitude towards business that currently exists in Sacramento. As such, it will be difficult for the Legislature to give the utilities protections from costly lawsuits they desire.  This is compounded by the views of several influential members of the Legislature headed by Scot Weiner (D-San Francisco) who want to have the State take over public utility operations.

What better time to do this than now while PG&E has declared bankruptcy to protect themselves from liabilities they incurred from wild fires the last couple years?  The same progressive politicians, who have increased their power over housing policy by passing SB-330 in the last legislative session, may find themselves in a position to strengthen their socialistic vision on further controlling their constituent’s behavior in the next couple years.

San Fran is trying to force PG&E into bankruptcy.  Why? So it can buy the firm on the cheap—there are laws against that.  The City of Ventura agreed to become a energy company.  The city council agreed to set it up, AFTER learning it would lose a minimum of $200,000 a year.  The Socialist Mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer wants the power of running a company—regardless of the economic disaster for the community.  Love CalTrans, High speed Rail, government education, the Post Office and the VA—you will love government controlling you electricity—supply and cost.  California is a Third World country—no energy makes it real to many.

Behind the Utility induced Blackouts

By Richard Eber, Citizens Journal,  10/11/19 

With the threat of high winds igniting wildfires in California, the two largest utilities Southern California Edison & Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)  in the name of public safety, have cut power to over one million customers throughout the State.

Given what has transpired we have to ask:

  1. Are the utilities trying to protect their client’s safety or are they attempting to limit their liability if wildfires break out caused by equipment failure?
  2. By causing inconvenience and loss of revenue to many businesses, are Edison and PG&E sending a less than subtle message to the legislature that they want protection from liability for similar disasters as last year in the future?
  3. In the Socialistic State of California does government believe they can do a better job than private industry in delivering power to homes and businesses than private industry can?

In answering these questions there are a lot of angry people.  Some of the same folks who were condemning PG&E last year for causing widespread damage with The Tubbs and Camp Fire’s, are unhappy that they had their power cut this week in the name of safety.  In dealing with high wind situations are the utilities in California in a no win situation where “Nobody’s right when everyone is wrong”.

My friend Debbie from Ventura complains, “Since I was a little girl there have always been Santa Ana winds near where I live.  Why now have things changed so that Edison wants to cut off their services in the name of safety when this weather condition crops up?”

Debbie is right. The winds of change have indeed taken a new direction from public utilities when a possible disaster might occur.  Before, when an earthquake of flood has taken place, the emphasis has always been on restoring service as quickly as possible.  With the recent actions of Edison and PG&E we can see their concern for public safety to be placed in fewer situations where they might be liable to the threat of lawsuits.

It is ironic that the utilities feel their shareholders are safer turning off the lights than trying to keep them on.  Ultimately, the people of California will have to determine if the they prefer this “You got to be cruel to be kind” approach or go back to the old system where chances might have been taken to deliver power at all costs.

Given this Hopson’s Choice scenario the utility companies are currently offering their clients, it would appear they are asking Governor Newsom and the legislature to bail them out with more exemptions that protect them from legal liability when “force majeure” (acts of God & nature) situations take place.

In addition there is an antagonistic attitude towards business that currently exists in Sacramento. As such, it will be difficult for the Legislature to give the utilities protections from costly lawsuits they desire.  This is compounded by the views of several influential members of the Legislature headed by Scot Weiner (D-San Francisco) who want to have the State take over public utility operations.

What better time to do this than now while PG&E has declared bankruptcy to protect themselves from liabilities they incurred from wild fires the last couple years?  The same progressive politicians, who have increased their power over housing policy by passing SB-330 in the last legislative session, may find themselves in a position to strengthen their socialistic vision on further controlling their constituent’s behavior in the next couple years.

Just imagine how things will be when the “Spare the Air” director orders citizens to regulate electricity use of face criminal prosecution. 

If this is the case Southern California Edison and PG&E are not ready to surrender without a fight.  It would appear they are prepared to deliver their message of independence by showing the public what might happen if they were not around to safeguard the delivery and electricity and gas to consumers.

Along with this message is a warning of what might occur if energy delivery is turned over to politicians who advocate for the Green New Deal.  This is a radical departure from the use of fossil fuel. It places more emphasis on reducing Green House gasses than providing enough energy for air conditioners to operate during the summer.

Such a scenario as possible brownouts caused by government policy to save the environment by eliminating fossil fuels, might be a gambit that even a progressive such as Gavin Newsom might try to avoid, He undoubtedly remembers what happened to Gray Davis when the greed of Enron created an artificial shortage of energy in California resulted in rolling blackouts.

These energy-less periods were a major factor in then Governor Gray Davis being recalled from office. Certainly, Gavin Newsom would not care to share the same fate.

Given what has transpired, we are looking for this game of high stakes poker to continue between private utilities and the State of California in the coming years.  This will likely become a testing ground between the present petroleum fueled economy when it clashes with the Green New Deal-Climate Change model advocated by almost all the Democratic Presidential candidates.

As the present blackout going on in the Golden State indicates, the guinea pigs for this crucial issue in American society  are to be the people of California.  Most likely they will have to used to having  power curtailed  more often and pay the economic consequences of energy politics.

Perhaps in the future even “Roxanne” will no longer have a choice to turn off her red light without having an auxiliary generator available.  Welcome to the Green New Deal.

Richard Eber studied journalism at the University of Oregon. He writes about politics, culture, education restaurants, and was former city and sports editor of UCSB Daily. Richard is president of Amerasa Rapid Transit, a specialized freight forwarder.

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. payback for lawsuits

    • Socialism has a PRICE, question is, did they SEE IT.
      Everyone will BLAME PG&E, however they can use it to their advantage if they make a campaign and advertise what they need for their infrastructure and that state limiting their ability to make it better. They need to know how much rates will increase due to regulations and the consequences in the future.
      I am not sure if one or representatives for the state legislature are Republican or not, however this is the time they hit the airwaves and road. Make a case comparing the shutdown to socialism and how the state regulations have prevented PG&E to provide power to the customers.
      Customers need to know WHY and what is preventing them to avoid it in the future, especially the mandates.
      If they do it, maybe, just maybe voters in areas outside PG&E will finally have a WAKE UP CALL

  2. Socialist thinking. Just like disarm the entire populace because of a few deranged idiots now you have to punish most of the state for the fires. Does that mean that henceforth every time that the winds blow over 15 miles per hour the electricity will be shut off? The state wants to convert to electric cars and will the system be able to handle it? Idiotic!

  3. California will soon be a third world state similar to cities such as Detroit and Baltimore run by total incompetents, people with a glib tongue but few marketable skills who turn to politics and try to take over and run the businesses that would never hire them in the first place.

  4. Another lefty smoke screen (pun intended) to seize more control. Lefty
    “politicians” controlling California energy production/usage. This will
    not end well.

  5. Treva Bennett says

    Yet, the voters keep voting in the same twisted sickos over and over again. Not only that I feel the elections are totally corrupted. With eleven counties in over votes what did the RNC do about that? You can bet the other districts were also corrupt. Conservative voters have no chance as it stands now. No paper trail. This must be addressed. We need severe consequences for people participating in cheating and rewards for reporting it.

    • Absolutely! I’ve never seen so many people unhappy and bitchy but they keep sending the same morons back to Sac. HELLO! Must be Trumps fault!

  6. Since I’m not seeing any solutions in this article or in the comments, let me make a suggestion.

    PG&E can be take over by eminent domain by the state and handed over to a non-government entity set up and run for the ratepayers.

    There are many examples of public /private non-profits like PBS, or special authorities like the Tennessee Valley Authority that are neither profit seeking entities nor government run bureaucracies.

    Let’s start by asking what we want to replace PG&E, then start a referendum to put on the ballot. The referendum could nullify existing money losing “green” requirements and give the new entity the power to make decisions base on acheiving two goals for ratepayers:

    1) Provide safe power by upgrading the infrastructure.
    2) Provide the lowest rates possible while meeting the first goal.

  7. ExCaliExpat says

    To elaborate & continue : Those same 50-100 year old utility infrastructures are now also in close proximity to open space areas and trees that are not pruned with any degree of regularity, partially in deference to the green eco-warrior progressives who scream bloody murder if a tree is pruned, or (horrors) felled.
    Furthermore, open space grassland and firebreak maintenance, once performed regularly by fire departments during California’s June gloom & May gray, are not allowed by these same eco-warrior progressives who tweet “Let it burn” when referring to the threat to the Reagan Library from the Easy Fire.
    These jackwagons don’t seem to care a whit,about the millions of metric tons released by a raging inferno wildfire caused by their misguided environmental policies that cause people’s homes, cars, building materials to go up in smoke for days, but they flip out if a controlled burn is held for half a day to create Fire breaks and fuel management procedures.

    No, ALL of these social and political ills can be laid SQUARELY at the feet of liberal, progressive, socialist democrat, DEMOCRAT politicians and eco-justice warriors from the Sierra Club and their ilk.

    Democrats are KILLING CALIFORNIA, both LITERALLY and figuratively and the only,good opportunity coming out of the horrors of all the California wildfires is that MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, enough people will be pissed off by living in the dark for days, or living in fear of the next inevitable wind event, that they’ll finally WAKE UP AND STOP VOTING DEMOCRAT!!!

    START by recalling Gavin Newsom and do the right thing by electing Tom McClintock or John Moorlach as Governor and FIX OUR DAMN STATE!!!!

  8. It’s obvious what is going on and what this is. The one and only solution is to vote them out of power. As long as the far left is in power expect worse of the same. Turn off the news people and read and research for yourself. It doesn’t take much effort to find out the truth.

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