What others are saying about the utilities’ attempt to shift liabilities onto Californians
Don’t Make Ratepayers Pay for PG&E Wildfire Negligence
The Mercury News Editorial Board
PG&E is a convicted felon with a reputation as the least-trusted utility in California. Cal Fire’s announcement Friday blaming the company for multiple Northern California fires last October adds to the outrage. … When PG&E rakes in profits, shareholders reap the benefits. But if PG&E fails to perform to state standards, if its actions lead to fatalities and property devastation, shareholders — and not ratepayers — should bear the cost.
PG&E Doesn’t Deserve a Bailout
San Francisco Chronicle Editorial Board
Despite Cal Fire’s conclusions, PG&E maintained that its “overall programs met our state’s high standards." Given the gathering evidence to the contrary, lawmakers should look to protect the public from PG&E instead of rushing to rescue the company from itself.
Be Careful, Legislature: Utilities must be responsible for mistakes
San Diego Union Tribune Editorial Board
"The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board has vigorously opposed efforts to make ratepayers pay for mistakes made by California’s three giant investor-owned utilities. Giving electricity providers an incentive to cut corners on safety is an awful idea. … The state Legislature should do absolutely nothing to make PG&E, Edison or SDG&E think that their obligations to operate safely have been reduced in any way."
Letter on Behalf of Major California Electric Utility Ratepayer Interests
An open, deliberative discussion of wildfire liability and management is required before actions by this Legislature impose additional costs on utility customers, large and small. A range of solutions should be considered as alternatives to rendering already financially strained electric utility customers the “insurers of last resort” for the utility industry. A full understanding of options available for all interests will lead to more sustainable solutions.
Local Government Coalition Letter to Governor Brown and Legislative Leaders
"For decades, local governments could rely on the law and the courts to make cities and counties, and their constituents and businesses, whole after a disaster caused by a utility. This is alarming as it attempts to change our long-standing constitutional protections. We, therefore, believe it is highly inappropriate to suggest legal changes that could deny the rights of those who sustained losses from the fires before a full assessment of cause and determination can be made."
Agricultural Coalition Letter to Governor Brown and Legislative Leaders
PG&E and other investor owned utilities are aggressively challenging current practices surrounding utility liability. Insurance costs are rising and victims, counties and their attorneys are seeking billions of dollars in wildlife related claims. As needed reforms are considered, policy makers must insure that ratepayers are not unfairly held responsible for utility negligence.
PG&E Faces Reckoning Over Wildfire Liability
“The problem is that PG&E has been brandishing the threat of bankruptcy for years. … What we're really upset about is PG&E brandishing bankruptcy and the fear around bankruptcy to get legislation that lets them off the hook."
Power Companies’ Mistakes Can Cost Billions. Who Should Pay?
New York Times
On a recent walking tour in San Jose, the state’s third-most populous city, a former state regulator showed the issues that are raised when the wooden poles that hold power lines and communication cables are not attended to. Some cable lines dangled in front of houses. Workers had tied some wires to the poles with rope — a violation noted by the tour’s guides. Power lines ran through thickets of trees to connect to houses. Overloaded poles have caused wildfires,” said Catherine Sandoval, the former regulator who had organized the tour.
PG&E May Try to Shift Liability for North Bay Wildfires to Governments
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat
As Pacific Gas & Electric Co. braces for the possibility that its power lines will be named by investigators as the cause of the North Bay wildfires, the utility’s legal strategy appears to involve trying to spread the blame for billions of dollars in fire losses on local governments. The San Francisco utility company has filed claims with Sonoma County, the city of Santa Rosa and other agencies saying that if PG&E is found liable for the fires, then those governments may share responsibility because of the “inadequacy” of the local fire response and preparations.
PG&E Equipment Tied to Some of Deadliest Wine Country Fires
In a Friday interview, California State Senator Jerry Hill challenged the idea that climate change was to blame for the Wine Country fires, saying “climate change and the new normal don’t ignite fires.”
Cal Fire Attributes More Fires to PG&E