Pacific Gas and Electric is under fire yet again from the highest echelons of California state government Monday for its recent power outage plan to avoid wildfires.
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Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom called on the utility to give of a credit or rebate of $100 to residential customers who were affected by the power shutoff and $250 to small business. This as Newsom’s state utility president Marybel Batjer called an emergency meeting Friday at the San Francisco headquarters of California Public Utilities Commission to hear from PG&E executives about the shutoff.
PG&E CEO Bill Johnson had a busy mail delivery day as both Newsom and Batjer sent letters informing him of their dissatisfaction and plans for correction.
Batjer said PG&E’s "failures in execution" during last week’s power outages — the largest in the state’s history — "created an unacceptable situation that should never be repeated."
Last week, PG&E took the unprecedented step of cutting power to more than 700,000 customers, affecting about 2.5 million Californians. The company said it did it because of dangerous wind forecasts but acknowledged that its execution was poor.
Newsom’s letter criticized the utility for failing to properly maintain its equipment, saying “this outage was the direct result of decades of PG&E prioritizing profit over public safety, mismanagement, inadequate investment in fire safety and fire prevention measures, and neglect of critical infrastructure.”
Johnson was not the only executive to receive a letter from Newsom on the subject of PG&E. Batjer, too, was on the receiving end with Newsom telling the utility chief that her body should “require PG&E to evaluate additional steps it can take to assists residents, small businesses and critical providers with safe back-up power options, including back-up power for medical devices to better withstand temporary outages.”
Following the release of the letters, Johnson released the following statement:
"We've received the Governor's letter and appreciate its intent — to help make the State and all of us safer. First and most important, during the Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), there were no catastrophic wildfires started. We welcome the review of our PSPS plan, practices and actions during the October 9-13 shutoff. We executed this event in accordance with our Wildfire Mitigation Plan as approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and under the guidelines of the CPUC's De-energization Order Instituting Rulemaking."
Last week at a press conference, PG&E Johnson admitted his company was “not adequately prepared."