Gavin Newsom demands consumer rebates for power outages

Daniel Fowler
October 19, 2019

In an eight-page letter the same day to PG&E's CEO, Batjer urged PG&E to restore power in future planned outages within 12 hours as it must after major storms - and to do far more to limit the scope of future outages. Peter Minett, chair of Nevada County Democrats, pointed to a demonstration on Wednesday against the shutdown, but noted that "other people that felt like they'd much rather have a couple of days of inconvenience than a massive wildfire".

"PG&E has an obligation to the customers affected by the company's inadequate preparation and failed execution of this power shut-off event", Newsom wrote in a letter sent to PG&E Chief Executive Bill Johnson.

The CPUC regulates services and utilities, safeguards the environment, and assures Californians' access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services. The company's equipment caused deadly fires in 2017 and 2018, and PG&E faces billions of dollars in liabilities related to the damage.

The three-phase power shutoff will affect around 800,000 customers. PG&E turned off power because the company feared high winds might push transmission lines into contact with trees that could easily catch fire.

Johnson was not the only executive to receive a letter from Newsom on the subject of PG&E.

According to ABC News, high-speed winds had high potential to trigger sparks off power lines and start fires.

Californians say they understand the root of the dilemma.

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The tactic is created to minimize fire risk in a state where increasingly sudden, severe changes in the weather have intensified the frequency of wildfire damage. "PG&E must be held to account".

The CPUC will also hold an emergency meeting on Friday, October 18, 2019, at its headquarters at 505 Van Ness San Francisco to hear from top PG&E executives about what lessons have been learned from this latest event and what steps will be taken to ensure mistakes and operational gaps are not repeated. PG&E's equipment has been responsible for a number of wildfires in California in recent years.

"The scope, scale, complexity, and overall impact to people's lives, businesses, and the economy of this action can not be understated", California Public Utilities Commission President Marybel Batjer wrote in a letter to PG&E CEO Bill Johnson.

Momentum is growing for a "public takeover" of PG&E.

Climate change has made for more extreme conditions.

Almost 40 years ago, at the height of the oil industries' imposed gasoline shortages and price hikes, Workers World Party launched a national campaign to demand "oil belongs to the people" and called for a worker takeover of the oil industry. This can only be fully accomplished if we join together to overturn this murderous, for-profit system and build a socialist system that will first and foremost focus on people's needs.

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