Richard Eber, California Political News and Views
Like most people who have lived their entire lives in California, I’m not exactly in love with PG&E. The utility that serves millions of residents can be charitably called a benevolent oligopoly. It is large and often unwieldy but when a pilot light is out, a utility line is down, or there is a gas leak, they have always come to the rescue.
With an exemplary record of keeping the lights on except when a natural disaster strikes, it has never occurred to me that the large utility should be replaced by a government agency.
Governor Gavin Newsom differs with this assessment. He believes the State can do a better job than PG&E and Southern California Edison in providing energy to California’s 30 million residents. He seems to be suffering from a terminal case of Goldilocks’ Syndrome. Using a similar ploy that the temperature of the porridge being too hot or cold, California’s governor is doing everything possible to drive the beleaguered utility into the ground
This company has been the subject of class action lawsuits and ultimately bankruptcy for their responsibility in wild fires the last couple years. To avoid being the fall guy for these unfortunate acts of nature caused by high winds and dry brush, PG&E this year has taken preemptive action by shutting off electricity when extreme fire danger has been in play.
Turning off the juice during the recent wind storm displeased Newsom. He has blamed the utility for not being adequately prepared for such catastrophes. Following PG&E’s successful gambit, the Governor was angry stating there was more that could have been done to avoid homeowners losing power.
Despite PG&E’s perilous financial situation, he lobbied the utility to rebate $ 100.00 to residential and $150.00 to business customers for their losses during the blackouts. Because of mounting pressure from the Governor and the news media, PG&E had no choice other than to grant Newsom’s request.
Always complaining about high rates to consumers, Newsom has no problem making the utility purchase expensive energy sources created by Cap and Trade projects. In addition he has forced the utilities in California buy back excess electricity at low profit from homeowners with solar power panels on their roofs. At the same time he thinks utilities are overcharging consumers.
This guy is out to lunch. Newsom is the same individual who has asked the Attorney General to investigate why gasoline prices are so high in
Taking Bob Dylan’s immortal line, “It doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”, let’s think about it Gavin. Could it be taxes, oppressive government regulations, special fuel requirements, and a host of other laws to cost consumers in the Golden State on average a dollar more per gallon than the rest of the country?
What then might be Gavin Newsom’s end game using such pretzel logic. It appears he wants the State to essentially nationalize PG&E and later Southern California Edison and have them operate California Power Grid. Such a takeover would allow the power brokers in Sacramento to.
- Be in charge of energy distribution allowing them to pick which businesses they desire to operate in the state.
- Initiate the Green New Deal and wean residents and businesses off fossil fuels regardless of the consequences
- Be able to use revenue from providing gas and electric to raise taxes on the wealthy.
- Piggyback their energy takeover plans with energy along with regulating the use of water and new housing to create the socialist utopia they envision California to become.
It’s so beautiful. Governor Newsom looks like the Knight in shining armor rescuing his constituents from the evil utility who only cares about giving high dividends to their stockholders. This is classic Marxist strategy to overthrow the proletariat.
So far, the former Mayor of San Francisco is getting away with it.
Newsom has co-dependents in the court system to assist in his diabolical plans. The bankruptcy judge overseeing PG&E’s perilous condition after paying out billions of dollars in claims on wildfires of the past few years, has been treating the utility like it is a criminal enterprise being run by the mafia. Instead of creating rulings that would allow them to extricate themselves from Chapter 11, Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali has been more interested in tacking additional claims costs on PG&E than solving their financial problems
This judge is playing God by ignoring the needs of consumers who depend on PG&E for their livelihood. By doing this the utility lacks the capital to perform regular maintenance and infrastructure investments needed to keep the lights on in California.
Meanwhile Governor Newsom is throwing kerosene on the fire with his rebate demands plus his assistance that PG&E do more fire prevention work in rural areas knowing there are not funds available to do such work now.
All of this is going on without a peep coming out of the legislature. They are licking their chops for when the Public Utility Commission (PUC) loaded with Progressive appointees, can come in for the kill and take over PG&E’s assets at pennies on the dollar.
Unfortunately a lot details and logic are missing from this whole matter. Are we to expect a government in Sacramento which has incompetently administered the Department of Motor Vehicles and the welfare department, and just about every state agency, be able to manage the distribution of energy? Can the type of PC thinking that dominates the Legislature effectively operate as complex an entity as PG&E?
There is also the point that no matter what steps PG&E took or can takes to avert destructive wildfires; this will not prevent these disasters from occurring. The fact is that the phenomena of “Force Majeure” (an act of God or nature) will always be with us. People like Gavin Newsom trying to take political advantage of fires, floods, earthquakes, etc, do not want to recognize the laws of nature.
Before trying to take over the operations of PG&E the Governor might consider what happened to Gray Davis after his involvement with Enron was known. Perhaps Newsom will have to learn the hard way that his brand of Socialism won’t work as history has always proven
Unfortunately, Progressives will likely never know or understand such a foreign concept.
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.
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