California Fires: PG&E Declares Bankruptcy to Avoid Payouts for 6 Years of Damages?

Uninsulated Wires Cause Forest Fires

One of California’s largest Power Utilities, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has a problem. Due to growth of deadwood and brush not being cleared enough, power lines have caused over 1500 fires in California over the last six years. Usually, winds cause live and un-insulated wires to touch dry branches and spark blazes, sometimes transformers explode and do it.

Street cleaning and trash collection are two aspects of infrastructure that some cities there are already letting slide.

One of the reasons it hasn’t been cleared is California’s bureaucracy. It sometimes takes years to get permitted to cut dangerous nearby trees. Environmental analysis, you know. They used to have State and local brush-clearing on a regular schedule, before fires became such a big deal there. Now it sits there and becomes fire fuel.

While the State has always had wildfires, only recently have they been severe and frequent. Policies have taken the place of good practices, and safety is threatened. One dubious reason given for the increasing fires is climate change (yeah). The fact that California’s other 3 electric utilities aren’t being discussed is evidence that they have less safety issues with wires and equipment.

Millions Spent on Lobbying, Not Safety, Even After Chapter 11 Filed

In January, PG&E filed for bankruptcy in response to costs from the rampant fires of 2017 and 2018. Yet they continued to lobby even when they should have been spending more on safety. This kind of investor bottom-line uber alles (“over all” in German) thinking leads to lives lost and properties destroyed. Not the shareholders‘ mostly, no doubt.

Such cavalier actions have resulted in even more idiotic responses from governments there (surprise!). Governor Newsom is leading the charge to threaten Nationalization of the company. It has worked out so well for other nations that have done so, like Venezuela and Cuba. You think the down-time during blackouts is long now, wait until that happens.

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Given the State’s record, they will quickly raise rates, reduce both the quality and availability of service, and of course cry for Federal Aid. They still won’t clear the brush. The CEO of PG&G recently garnered some anger by claiming that the blackouts were a good thing, as less people had their homes burn down. Of course those homes would be burning down from the inactions of his company. Details, details.

California PG&E: Safety Shut-Offs Not Very Safe

He had a difficult time selling his brand of optimism. People in the dark with spoiling food in warm refrigerators and freezers were not amused. Neither were people that relied on electronically controled medical equipment. One person so far has died from this negligence. How many more will each time there is a “safety shut-off”?

The State back in September decided to temporarily nullify their Environmental Quality Act, to allow some crews to begin clearing brush and trees faster without the red tape. Clearly it was too little, too late. All of this comes as California embraces Medicaid for all, open borders, Socialism and climate change politics. Money from higher and higher taxes on productive citizens is getting harder to collect.

This is because taxpayers are fleeing the State of California in droves, if they can. It’s hard to keep paying more while getting less. Infrastructure, like power utilities, will continue to degrade. Street cleaning and trash collection are two aspects of infrastructure that some cities there are already letting slide. This has resulted in third-world conditions on some streets. But you can buy legal weed to cope!

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Karl Donaldson
Karl Donaldson
Karl Donaldson is an editor and writer for NRN. Partial to his two cats, he lives in New Hampshire with his wife and a veritable menagerie of his wife's creatures.