PG&E Corp., California’s largest electric utility, has filed for bankruptcy protection after incurring billions of dollars in liabilities and potential liabilities in wildfire damages. The California legislature, totally controlled by Democrats, is giving the utility no succor, reports the Wall Street Journal. Writes the Journal:
A company that was once one of the most influential in Sacramento and regularly got its way on legislation and regulation now has few defenders left. The reason, Sacramento veterans say, is that years of bad news related to deadly fires and other disasters have made the company unpopular among the public.
That sentiment now outweighs the goodwill PG&E had amassed from years of lobbying, donations and other close ties to key leaders, they say.
What brought about this turnabout? Decades of strict zoning in metropolitan areas pushed up housing prices to stratospheric levels, impelling hundreds of thousands (millions?) of Californians to seek housing in cheap land and housing in the boonies. PG&E was required as part of its mandate to serve the public to extend electric power lines to these scattered developments. Meanwhile, state policy overturned the previous practice of clear cutting and controlled burns in woodlands, resulting in the accumulation of a massive amount of fuel. Then nature intervened in the form of an extended drought. When power lines failed, as they periodically do, they sparked massive wildfires.
PG&E may bear some share of the blame for California’s misfortunes. One can argue the particulars. But the political class also bears blame for policies that accelerated exurban sprawl and turned arid woodlands into potential furnaces. Of course, being a politician means never having to say you’re sorry.
One can only speculate what bankruptcy means for PG&E’s ability to maintain reliable electric service. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2001 and managed to survive, so it may arise again.
Electric utilities are a favorite whipping boy of the left. Nowhere is that more in evidence than in Virginia, where the leftist wing of the Democratic Party has made a practice of demonizing the power companies, especially Dominion Energy. (That’s not to say that Dominion hasn’t brought on much of the criticism upon itself, as Steve Haner’s reporting and commentary have amply demonstrated). However, much of the criticism is unwarranted, as I have strived to point out..
Many Virginia Democrats are refusing to take contributions from the power company, blaming the company for ills from coal ash to not moving rapidly enough toward a green electric grid. With the Dems poised to take control of the legislature, Dominion soon may face a more hostile environment than it has seen since the days of howlin’ Henry Howell. The PG&E scenario should terrify the executives in the Dominion C suite. Such an outcome could very well happen here.There are currently no comments highlighted.