Power Monopoly Needs Accountability

Kylie Choi, Staff Writer

PG&E has caused plenty of recent problems for Lamorinda residents. I was nearly evacuated from my home due to a local fire.  I packed my bag and prepared never to return.

A red haze hung in the air for days as a result of fires started by faulty power lines.  Power blackouts threatened or caused school closures, and forced teachers to change lesson plans.

With all of the turmoil surrounding the power company, I fail to understand why PG&E executives requested a $11 million raise, according to an article published by the San Francisco Chronicle in June 2019. Last year the company field for bankruptcy instead of using this apparent surplus of funds to update its failing power grid. Thankfully, a judge denied the raise, but the fact that it was requested in the 1st place reveals the problem with PG&E.

PG&E has failed to put its money where it is needed most.

According to The Sacramento Bee, PG&E, Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) all requested funds from the Public Utilities Commission in order to improve wildfire safety, but this funding has failed to protect consumers.  The recent wildfire behind Acalanes High School in Lafayette is just one example of the potential danger that PG&E power lines pose to the public.

In fact, the Camp Fire, the deadliest fire in California’s history, which burned 153,336 acres of land, destroyed 18,804 homes, and killed 85 people, was also caused by PG&E lines.

PG&E should be scrambling to fix the power lines with all available funds, not handing over its extra cash to executives.

It is infuriating to think that the company is trying to increase compensation to its executive while at the same time making plans to raise rates for its customers. “PG&E is requesting massive increases in costs to ratepayers in order generate profits for investors – all while wildfire victims sit in bankruptcy,” Press Secretary Nathan Click told The Sacramento Bee. 

Any money the company acquires should go to updating the power lines, clearing trees around the lines, or paying for the fire damage.  It should not be used to reward its failing leadership.

This is an example of the dangers inherent in a monopoly. Without competition, this power giant has had little incentive to improve its services and protect its consumers.

Rather than approving additional funding, the Public Utilities Commission should finally start holding PG&E accountable and demand to see improvements in the way it does business.