San Diego Union-Tribune: PG&E shouldn’t get more help with California wildfires without big changes

December 7, 2018

With at least 88 people dead in the Camp fire in Northern California — and with Pacific Gas & Electric’s equipment once again the prime suspect as the cause of an enormous wildfire — the giant investor-owned utility could face an existential crisis. Earlier this year, lawmakers passed a bill designed to help the utility with its liability risks from 17 wildfires in 2017 by spreading out the costs and allowing PG&E to pass along some of the costs to its ratepayers. California Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, is considering introducing legislation to help PG&E with its ongoing liabilities nightmare next month, according to an email from an aide. But the days of PG&E expecting and getting help because of its importance to California may be near an end. On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission took a far harder line. The utility was ordered to implement safety regulations crafted by the commission because, as CPUC President Michael Picker said, “PG&E appears not to have a clear vision for safety programs.” Given that the utility was convicted of six federal felonies for its negligence and a cover-up in the deadly San Bruno disaster of 2010, this is a harsh indictment of PG&E.

Analysts said major leadership changes are “an imperative … to begin restoring public trust.” You think? The Legislature, like Picker, should be distrustful.

— San Diego Union-Tribune

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