PG&E seeks to charge ratepayers for fire fees

28 Oct

From the San Jose Mercury News:

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/10/26/pge-pushes-for-ratepayers-to-pay-millions-in-california-wildfire-costs/

In a 30-minute meeting on Oct. 17, Meredith Allen, PG&E’s senior director of regulatory relations, told Travis Foss, an adviser to PUC Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen, that PG&E and other California utilities are in “an untenable situation,” according to a record of the meeting that PG&E sent to the PUC as required under state lobbying rules. PG&E should not have to pay “a disproportionate” share of the costs of wildfires because of the growing risk and a tough insurance market, Allen argued.

The utility companies want ratepayers to pay instead of their shareholders.

A share of PG&E stock is worth about $57 today, having reached a three year high of $70.63 a share just last month. Then the wildfires hit, and PG&E was found liable. 

http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/PG-E-cited-for-late-maintenance-work-more-often-12303697.php

California regulators auditing Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s work in the field cited the company for late repairs and maintenance jobs far more frequently than any other electric utility in the state, according to documents made public in the wake of this month’s deadly Wine Country fires.

This isn’t the first time PG&E has been found to be negligent of their infrastructure. Up in the hills that means dead trees standing right under and alongside power lines, here in Chico it also means un-maintained gas lines. 

http://www.krcrtv.com/news/pge-emergency-repairs-underway-for-gas-leak-in-chico-dam/11441480

“Emergency repairs” for a leak they’d known about for a year?  Read this recent article from CNBC –  look at all the fires that have been caused by PG&E negligence, and the bills PG&E has received.

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/13/pge-plunges-on-concern-its-power-lines-may-have-started-california-wildfires.html

Shareholders got nervous, causing the stock price to “plummet” to $57.  But, shares have risen steadily despite the “plummets”, worth $10 more than they were in 2013. Why are shareholders nervous? Because they’re afraid they will have to pay.

Of course, in the San Bruno deal shareholders were awarded $90 million? This article is confusing:

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/04/21/court-oks-90-million-pge-san-bruno-explosion-settlement/

Why do we allow utilities to be publicly traded for profit? That seems to be the whole problem, one court declaring PG&E “placed profits ahead of safety…” the San Bruno disaster having been caused by ” a combination of PG&E’s shoddy maintenance, flawed record-keeping and the PUC’s lazy oversight, according to an official investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.”

The utility companies should be run strictly for the benefit of the ratepayers. 

Recently I heard from a group in Silicon Valley that has “united in supporting non-partisan, bi-partisan legislative reforms in how consumer rates are set for investor-owned water utilities.”

They have recently put up a website:

https://www.waterratescoalition.com/

I’m glad to hear from these people, I’m glad somebody is still fighting these outrageous utility rate increases. I also find the Lucerne group is still having meetings.  Here’s their facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/LucerneFLOW/

As you can see, we in Chico are not getting as badly screwed as other towns, but my bills continue to inch up, even though I’ve drastically reduced my water usage. 

It’s time to get on board and fight. 

 

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6 Responses to “PG&E seeks to charge ratepayers for fire fees”

  1. Jim October 28, 2017 at 8:07 am #

    Privatize profits, socialize losses. When they win they keep the money, when they loose, the public pays. Funny how it works that way.

    • Juanita Sumner October 28, 2017 at 10:51 am #

      Thanks Jim, you nailed that.

      PG&E claimed 75 mph when the weather service reported 45mph – there’s no trick too low for these creeps. I also see they get private meetings with CPUC – a private citizen would not get that

  2. Donna Chang October 28, 2017 at 10:58 am #

    Hi, I’m a former Chico resident now living in the bay area (but hope to come back one day). This article and your blog are fabulous, thank you very much.

    I have been ranting about PG&E ever since the San Bruno firestorm. I was always opposed to for profit ownership of utilities but PG&E has an appalling record that must be seriously addressed by this State. Fines don’t work–they are passed on to the consumer thanks to the corrupt PUC.

    Also, regarding your series on the transient population, last summer I came to town with family and a friend who had never been to Chico. He is from Georgia and lives in Denver. I am always excited to show people my beloved former hometown as the reaction is always some version of, “but this place is lovely, I had no idea!” Unfortunately that didn’t happen this time. I found myself embarrassed by the boarded up stores, the ugly sterile downtown park, and yes, the surly people lounging everywhere giving us the stinkeye. It made me sad to feel this way.

    • Juanita Sumner October 28, 2017 at 11:36 am #

      Thanks for commenting, it’s important to get more people talking about the whole idea of regulation and accountability for our utility infrastructure.

      I’m sorry you had that experience with your visitors – my family had a similar experience when we had out-of-town visitors, and I still worry they will never return.

  3. Rob October 30, 2017 at 5:50 am #

    Here’s another story citing PG&E negligence

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/utility-company-pgande-under-investigation-for-california-wildfire

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