It is the question everyone asks — will PG&E really do it?
The confidence and trust that a number of people have in PG&E is so low that they are scrambling to spend upwards of $8,000 to install whole house generators on the assumption the risk is fairly high that our power will be cut more than once for up to five days at a time in the coming years. These people aren’t paranoid. They’ve been PG&E customers for way too long and know better. PG&E, for them, symbolizes cooperate greed and indifference.
Most of us can’t afford $8,000 investments even if a family member’s life depends on it. While some are putting down hundreds for a portable generator in a bid to perhaps keep food from spoiling or to run a loved one’s essential medical equipment when a PG&E created emergency does occur, most of us are resigned to prepare to lose hundreds of dollars so PG&E shareholders and its corporate suite can remain whole. It’s been PG&E way of doing business for decades.
For those not worried you can understand the psychology of the Stockholm Syndrome when state leaders that are supposed to look out for our best interests allow PG&E to have their way with our wallets, our property, and our lives. We are forced captives of PG&E and we owe it all to their partners in crime in Sacramento. They are the ones that take campaign contributions from them and look the other way as PG&E continues to do what it does best — maximize their profits and maximize our pain whether it is in our pocketbooks or by destroying the property and killing off our fellow ratepayers.
More than a few believe this is all a ruse on the part of PG&E to keep everyone in line from Governor Newsom and the California legislature to their personal corporate lapdogs at the California Public Utilities Commission. They might have a point if it weren’t for one man — Federal Judge William Alsup. He’s the judge overseeing PG&E’s probation after another judge found PG&E guilty of various crimes for the 2010 torching of a San Bruno neighborhood while killing eight customers in a case that made PG&E a convicted felon.
Alsup has put PG&E’s feet to the fire especially after they have essentially admitted culpability in the Butte County fire which would mean if that pans out the convicted felon known as PG&E could go down as the biggest mass murderer in California history with 93 victims to date.
It is fear of what Alsup is capable of doing to make PG&E pay for its wanton ways that prompted PG&E to rollout the wildfire preparedness plan. Any chance cutting the power off where they have to in order to avoid Paradise 2.0 from happening PG&E will do it or else Alsup could end them.
On the flip side, cutting power would enrage PG&E’s 16 million captive customers probably more than the rolling blackouts of PG&E’s bid to do an Enron act that backfired and led to rolling brownouts, bankruptcy, and Californians upending political norms by recalling Gov. Gray Davis and replacing him with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
PG&E is walking a tight rope. The last thing they want to do is enrage hundreds of thousands of customers 60 or so miles away from a wildfire zone. But their chances of surviving as a company is much higher if that happens than if their equipment torches a place like Arnold and kills even more of its customers while PG&E is on probation.
The judge, unlike elected officials, is not buying into the business model PG&E has faithfully pursed that views customers and/or their homes as collateral damage in their relentless pursuit of finding ways to maximize profit even if it includes jeopardizing public safety.
If you want to protect your home, family, and economic well-being your best bet is to divert your anger into preparing to live without PG&E for periods of up to five days. Then, once you’ve got your proverbial ducks in a row, work toward living without PG&E for good so your family and property can be safe and prosperous.
You do that by making getting rid of elected officials that won’t work to get rid of a convicted felon and by extension a mass murderer that has 100 percent control over an essential service. As things stand now for all practical purposes it is like having a convicted mob hit man being able to operate with relative impunity thanks to government protection. In this case the CPUC, the state legislature, and governor seem to be too worried about keeping PG&E viable as a company than they are long-term solutions to protect the health, safety and economic well-being of 16 million Californians.
What kind of deal would we have gotten if as ratepayers we had formed a political action committee and doubled the $200,000 PG&E gave Newsom in his campaign for governor? Maybe a little more thought would have gone into the legislation to actually look out for the long-range well-being of 40 percent of the state’s residents that are captive PG&E customers that the Assembly and State Senate adopted last month to deal with the latest atrocities of a corporation that has been convicted of six federal felonies had the same ratepayer PAC doubled PG&E’s contributions to other races. In hindsight you’d likely be glad to chip into spending $1 million on Republicans running for the legislature and $1 million for Democrats doing the same if it had meant PG&E customers would have gotten a much better deal.
To recap what Sacramento has done, in order to save PG&E after the convicted felon corporation essentially wiped the Town of Paradise off the map, killed 85 customers, destroyed 14,000 homes, burned 5,000 other structures, and put in place a game plan that will inflict real financial pain and threaten the safety and health of hundreds of thousands of people far away from wildfire zones the state has found a way to keep PG&E as a viable corporation.
It won’t come cheap. The first installment is a 12.5 percent rate increased. Unless you just moved to California and have never been a host for the corporate mosquito act that PG&E has perfected to suck money out of ratepayers until they are bled dry, you know all too well the 12.5 percent is just the beginning.
Maybe, just maybe, you could tolerate it if the state bars PG&E from getting their usual 10.5 percent guaranteed profit from the $2 billion plus rate increase. After all a good share of the work that will be done to make the system safer so we can enjoy the soft side of PG&E was supposed to have been done previously under previous rate hikes.
Not only is PG&E going to pocket $200 million more in profit over the next two years to do work that if it had been done in a responsible and timely manner would likely have meant 85 less people being cremated, but the “new” PG&E is pushing for more.
They are arguing the state should guarantee them a 16 percent return regardless if they use the lives and homes of ratepayers to stoke profit margins beyond the currently guaranteed 10.5 percent return by cutting corners and not doing work as they promised in previous CPUC rate cases.
Don’t be surprised if you don’t make getting rid of PG&E a top priority the next time an election comes up and someone wants your vote that PG&E gets their wish for 16 percent guaranteed profits.
It’s apparent more than a few politicians with the way they tax Californians and allow PG&E to have their way view us as little more than ATMs to support their buddies and special interests they are beholden to.