It’s been just over seven years since a seemingly normal September evening was shattered when a PG&E gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno, killing eight people and destroying a portion of a neighborhood just two miles west of San Francisco International Airport.
And since then, the company that was deemed responsible by investigators has been fined more than $1.6 billion for negligence and agreed to launch a public relations campaign apologizing for the mishap.
And, of course, the ratepayers ended up holding the bag for their mistake. it didn’t take very long for the company to tap their customers to raise the money necessary to upgrade the existing gas delivery system in order to prevent another massive disaster.
Does that mean that in the wake of recent reports coming from Wine Country, that PG&E rates will be going up again?
The official cause of the fires that killed 22 people in Sonoma County alone – and destroyed nearly 3,000 homes and caused more than $1.2 billion in damage in just Santa Rosa – has yet to be determined.
But California regulators are looking closely at the possibility that the blazes were the result of PG&E powerlines that went down in windy conditions that never met the threshold for what rural power poles were supposed to be able to handle.
But this is where the genius of Northern California’s largest power provider comes in to play. After reports surfaced that downed power lines and exploding transformers were reported around the time that the North Bay fires began, the official line from 245 Market Street was that “hurricane strength winds in excess of 75 miles per hour in some cases” were to blame for the downed lines.
But weather station records in the vicinity of where the fires started showed winds at about half that strength – peaking at 41 miles per hour.
And now, according to a Mercury News article dated Oct. 26, top PG&E executives met as recently as last week with officials from the California Public Utilities Commission in an attempt to lobby them to make it easier to charge ratepayers for when their powerlines and transformers cause wildfires.
In short, they’re doing almost the exact same thing that they did with San Bruno – neglect to their system may have led to a disaster, and they’re simply passing that liability onto the people who have no choice but to utilize their services if they want to turn the lights on.
This is wrong on so many different levels. But unfortunately, it’s par for the course when it comes to PG&E – the company who apparently has millions of dollars to waste in trying to prevent the South San Joaquin Irrigation District from entering the retail power business, but yet has to go their customers for financial cover when their neglect in pursuit of profits is exposed.
Aren’t companies with guaranteed double-digit returns every year supposed to reinvest that money back into their infrastructure?
But don’t worry – because if this goes the way that it looks like it’s going to go, then there will eventually be commercials where they’re apologizing for being responsible for massive wildfires that literally turned people to dust while they were sleeping.
We all know that will everything all better.
Until it happens again.
Another week, another Thursday where only one game is separating first and fourth places in this fun little contest for bragging rights and a decent haircut.
After Chris Teicheira posted an impressive 5-1 record last week – missing only on the Escalon vs. Ripon contest, which bit all of us – he now saddles up with me for a 20-9 record heading into the sixth week of the Valley Oak League season.
Myself, Mark Condit and Eric Wohle all went 4-2 last week, meaning that Condit and Wohle are tied for second (or fourth, depending on how you look at it) with a 19-10 record.
So, once again, anything can happen pending the outcome of this week. But in all honestly, it’s beginning to look a lot like all four of us are going to end up tied, and we’ll spend the ensuing nine months coming up with ridiculous ways to break the tie before finally settling on an exasperated coin toss just to get it over with.
Welcome to adulthood.
As I will be in Stanislaus County for the next two weeks watching Ripon make a push for the Trans Valley League playoffs (which means I get to go to Hilmar next week and have a Portuguese corndog – which is a linguica that is battered in corn meal and deep fried), it will be up to the rest of the gentlemen to represent the thread at the Manteca vs. Sierra game this week, and the East Union vs. Manteca game next week.
Rumor has it that Tatanka may be making another appearance very soon, and that means Tiny Elvis could soon be rolling through the streets of Manteca – keep your eyes peeled.
But as for this week, this is how the cookies are crumbling:
uMyself – This week I’m taking Manteca over Sierra, East Union over Weston Ranch, Ripon over Hughson, the Bills over the Raiders and Philadelphia over San Francisco. I’m fully convinced that Manteca will beat my alma mater by no less than seven touchdowns, that Ripon will finish the year at 7-3, and San Francisco won’t win another game this season. And I believe that perfectly executed armchair analysis is worth sole possession of the top spot headed into the last week of the season.
uTeicheira – Chris is taking Manteca and East Union and picking Philly over San Francisco, but is going with Hughson over Ripon for some reason and is relying on his fandom with a pick of the Raiders over the favored Bills. This will either be egg on his face or the genius move needed to be in the driver’s seat. We’ll find out soon enough.
uWohle – The Lancer lap machine is going with his alma mater and the Buffaloes as well as Ripon, Philadelphia and Buffalo. Hey – those picks look mighty familiar. Do genius minds think alike?
uCondit – We call him Yoda because he’s smart enough to take Manteca, East Union, Buffalo, Philadelphia and Ripon – the same as both myself and Wohle. That means that either Chris jumps ahead two games or falls into the cellar heading into the last week of the season. Either way, this commissioner will be calling a last-minute meeting next week at an undisclosed location, and our picks will be made in full view of one another and sealed in an envelope to prevent any claims of stonewalling.
Also – I’m putting out the call now to anybody handy with a pair of clippers. It’s looking like we may need somebody’s services to shave letters into somebody’s head. Any in-kind donations to make that a reality?
Until next week.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.