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PG&E is about to make you pay twice & then some for their greed
Dennis Wyatt
Dennis Wyatt

Go take a look in your fridge and freezer. How much in perishable items do you have inside — perhaps $40 or $60 worth if you’re a typical family. You might have significantly more if you stocked up on meat or frozen food.

Check your bank account balance. If all of a sudden you can’t get to work because you can’t buy gasoline or your employer has to shutdown can you financially weather the blow?

You may soon find out as PG&E continues to find new ways to make life hell and expensive for its captive ratepayers while enjoying 10.5 percent guaranteed profits assured by the State of California regardless of how many customers they blow up or burn to death.

PG&E has given the City of Manteca and select other cities in their service territory far away from severe wildfire zones a heads up that they will likely be enjoying a Third World experience in the coming months without having to stray from their homes.

It is all being made possible because PG&E will plunge Manteca into 100 percent complete darkness without a kilowatt flowing through any power line for up to five days whenever severe wildfire conditions exist in areas 40 to 90 miles east in Tuolumne and Calaveras counties,

That’s because PG&E is trying to avoid compounding the consequences of its long history of pocketing money for bigger profits by not performing safety-related maintenance work by making you pay the price. If PG&E is good at anything it is sticking it to ratepayers while jacking up profits.

Keep in mind PG&E would have pulled the plug on Manteca three times in the last two years based on their new policy to put large swaths of California — what would be the world’s fifth largest economy if it were a separate nation — at the mercy of their well-documented greed dating back to their effort to replicate Eron’s high flying risky power broker model.

PG&E told the City of Manteca that all cities on certain transmission lines will have to go without electricity when they de-energize power lines to avoid wildfires in locales as far as 90 miles away.

There are only two reasons why PG&E is doing this and neither one bodes well for them or the California Public Utilities Commission that is supposedly making sure PG&E follows the rules and doesn’t once over ratepayers.

The first is that this is a publicity stunt for PG&E to leverage Sacramento and the courts for more wiggle room to siphon even more money off ratepayers and to gain more state laws granting them immunity from wanton acts of destruction or errors and omissions.

If so it is an incredibly stupid stunt given it consumes even more goodwill assuming PG&E has any left. But then given PG&E’s checkered history of hacking into computer systems to steal proprietary information from potential power rivals such as South San Joaquin Irrigation District as well as blowing up neighborhoods and leveling complete towns they may not see such a stunt — if that is what it is — as being stupid.

The most likely scenario is they are telling the truth, as strange as that might sound.

However if they are telling the truth underscores PG&E’s original sin — they treat safety as an afterthought wherever they can.

Power experts say public utilities in California are required to be able to isolate their power grids for the exact scenario PG&E spelled out to the City of Manteca. That would mean PG&E hasn’t done what their partners in crime — the CPUC — supposedly requires them to do which is build and maintain electrical systems with redundancies for safety and reliability purposes.

The SSJID,  that is still pushing forward with its efforts that are now  stalled in court to save Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon from PG&E and reduce retail rates 15 percent across the board out of the gate, has indicated that they intend to design and build interconnects that would not isolate Manteca as PG&E intends to do.

The rich part is SSJID was well aware of PG&E inadequacies apparently before PG&E was or at least until they were willing to admit given it is doubtful Sacramento could sit ideally by while PG&E turned another town such as Arnold into toast in the upcoming fire season.

So what does this mean to your pocketbook?

First, we already enjoy some of the highest electricity rates in the nation as PG&E customers. We pay 20 cents per kilowatt hour for those who are complete energy misers for the first 306 kilowatt hours per month and then most of us jump to 28 cents per kwh for use of power between 307 and 1,224 kwh. Beyond that its 40 cents an hour and PG&E’s top brass are planning corporate retreats to Tahiti.

PG&E is saying the average household customer could end up paying $200 a year for needed safety upgrades. That is on top of power costs.

Then there is the little issue of who is going to pay for PG&E’s $30 billion plus in outstanding liabilities from torching large swaths of their service territory. The cost that someone has to cover is 15 times the price of the safety upgrades. 

If you are a homeowner you’ve seen your annual insurance premium balloon on average $100 this year thanks to the PG&E effect for fires they are blamed for starting in 2017 and 2018 that destroyed more than 22,000 homes and structures and led to the deaths of over 100 people.

Add on top of that there are PG&E’s annual rate hike requests.

And now we are being told you will be forced to take food losses and perhaps lost wages because PG&E has such an inadequate grid that they can’t isolate communities when de-energizing power lines. You could try to submit a claim to PG&E for your losses but state law lets them off the hook for planned power outages designed to avoid safety issues. 

Your insurance company won’t cover your losses because they are the result of a preventative outage.

Given that two thirds of the state is at the mercy of PG&E that includes 15 million Californians you’d think the legislature and governor would be doing more than pontificating.

The last time PG&E put such a squeeze on California plunging us into rolling brownouts and skyrocketing power bills we removed Gov. Gray Davis in a free-for-all recall re-election that had 135 candidates on the ballot including Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The fact PG&E is still standing after the fiasco 16 years ago, following their blowing up the San Bruno neighborhood killing eight because they overtaxed natural gas lines to squeeze out more profits, and ignored on-the-ground line workers warnings that antiquated transmission lines were failing allowing the power company to trigger a fire that wiped out the Town of Paradise while killing 85 and destroying 14,000 homes speaks volumes about the lack of backbone in Sacramento.

What PG&E is now doing by informing Manteca we are now a pawn in their ongoing game of economic Russian roulette means they are either incompetent, greedy, or both.