PG&E cuts electricity to 24,000 customers

AP story here.

This is happening in America. In a country that likes to flatter itself as “exceptional” and the most advanced, most prosperous country that has ever existed.

The power is being shut off because PG&E can’t guarantee that their equipment can operate safely. In 2019. In America.

We put people on the moon and brought them home again fifty years ago. We devised, built and operated multi-use spacefaring vehicles 40 years ago.

But somehow, we have electrical distribution systems in operation that can’t safely operate in the SW US environment.

I know this isn’t the first time PG&E has done this, which makes it even more galling. Wait until they cut the power to Los Angeles; that oughta get people’s blood boiling.

How much are PG&E executives paid? And why?


Geisha Williams, by the way, was paid $8,597,220 by PG&E in 2017.

Fix your shit, PG&E. Spend that money where it’s needed, not where it’s wanted.

I’m sure that customers will gladly and quietly pay the higer prices needed to pay for the $30 billion in upgrades that would be needed to make the lines safe.

No–wait–they would scream bloody murder and demand that the government force the companies to keep the same prices.

You get what you pay for.

Unless I’m missing something, the $30 billion figure appears to refer to potential liabilities for last years’ wildfires. Assuming this can’t be negotiated down, cost of upgrades would be on top of that.

The compensation package agreed to for the new CEO may or may not be unreasonable, but whatcha gonna do when one is trying to attract top talent to a bankrupt utility with enormous unresolved liabilities? I will agree in advance that accepting a more modest salary with maybe greater back-end performance incentives would be nice, but, well, this ain’t Candyland.

Con Edison preemptively cut power to 50,000 in Brooklyn, NY during a heat wave mid-July. My block was one of the last to get the power back on, and the heat was so intense that many became ill. We were told afterwards that many more would’ve lost power if they didn’t make our part of Brooklyn their sacrificial lamb.
This was right after a blackout in Manhattan that affected 1/3 of the city - that’s still under investigation.

Our infrastructure is crumbling, while politicians just tut-tut, and promise more hearings.

Yep, and it will take much longer than one year to do the upgrades.

So their choice is to risk another 30 billion with windstorm power outages, a loss of revenue (if the current isn’t flowing they aren’t making money), and possibly more unwanted deaths or…

They can incur the wrath of Snowboarder Bo and other social justice warriors.

Having worked in this industry my whole life I can tell you that PG&E is one of the shittiest of the shitty, but they’re backed into a corner with no good path to take. Choosing the one which produces fewer crispy bodies might be their best option.

This is the problem: too many looters. Our country is being looted and left to rot. Too many politicians and too many businesspeople are acting without a care for the society they live in. “I’ve got mine; fuck 'em” is not going to help our society.

Anyone who uses the term “social justice warrior” in earnest is, IMO, likely a selfish jackass who doesn’t understand the issues, doesn’t understand the consequences and doesn’t deserve a whole lot of consideration.

So help me out here Bo. What should they do at this point? Keep the power on, risk another firestorm? Wave a magic wand and make a billion dollar upgrade happen overnight? Spank the CEO who was hired to guide them out of this mess?

Depending on the terrain just building a standard quality transmission line can cost $1,000,000 per mile. And it takes a long time. Restructuring the lines isn’t going to be much cheaper.

Or they could aggressively cut back any trees near their equipment. That’s a popular option in California.

Please, please give this jackass the full benefit of your wisdom.

I have issue with the term ‘top talent’. Wasn’t the last guy in the job also ‘top talent’? And the guy before him? He\She was ‘top talent’ too, right? And yet, here we are.

‘Top talent’ comes in, reaps rewards, and leaves without taking any responsibility. Then off to another company that needs ‘top talent’. Unless he\she actually commits a crime. And even then…

I get the feeling we could get a bear cub in the woods, dress it up in a suit, make it the CEO, pay it in fish and berries, and we would be pretty much in the position we’re in now.

Seriously, as long as it had the same staff as the last CEO, how bad could the bear cub do??

In San Jose, PG&E has been sending out notices for months about prepping for possible power interruptions due to emergency conditions. Guess it’s the new normal for the company that recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Maybe if they used a giant hedge trimmer.

I find, speaking for myself, that I am considerably more irritated at PG&E given their apparent habit of neglecting to do the work they are hired to do, waiting until something catastrophic happens, declaring bankruptcy, failing to fix issues or set out a plan to address them, and then announce they’re just gonna shut things down.

How many do overs does this group get?

Gotta get me one of those.

You guys do realize that for the most part, electrical utilities are regulated monopolies under the thumb of the various state governments, right? This ins’t a case of public officials allowing the infrastructure to decay; at worst, it’s lax regulatory oversight.

And on top of it, this isn’t due to shit equipment or infrastructure; it’s a pre-emptive attempt to limit the wildfire risk- apparently the combination of hot, dry winds, drought conditions in that part of California, and power lines blown down by the wind is, well, like a spark in a tinder box. It’s what caused the Camp fire last year, as a matter of fact.

To cap it off, PG&E is the LAST of the southern California electrical utilities to do this sort of thing- Southern California Edison started in 2017, and San Diego Gas & Electric started in 2013. And not in your rant, is the fact that 45,000 Southern California Edison customers have been warned that their power may be shut off too.

So before you get your righteous panties in a wad, this sure sounds a lot more like a prudent thing to do, than a consequence of poor or deferred maintenance or investment in better equipment. And I just get the impression that power networks are somewhat inherently fragile. Just this past June, a 15 minute severe thunderstorm and accompanying hail wiped out power to 800,000 Dallas area residents (myself among them) for a minimum of 9 hours, and in some cases, several days. It’s just the way the things are- sometimes Mother Nature gets the best of them, despite our best efforts.

Here’s a cite:

Rolling blackouts or brownouts are a standard power management strategy; they happen occasionally around here (Texas) as well, when it’s unusually hot (> 108 or so) or unusually cold for a protracted period in the southern part of the state (where heaters aren’t often necessary, and people have electrical heating)

Wait, go back. The former CEO mentioned earlier … some loving mother named their child Geisha?!?

I think most of us are OK with this part.

I think the issue is with the utility crying poverty while paying stuffed suits multi-million dollar salaries and signing bonuses.

I’d much rather be inconvenienced temporarily than have 10s of thousands of homes burn. This is high fire season in CA and PG&E has been going up and down the state telling people they have the program in place that will shut off power if the weather conditions warrant it. Seems prudent to me.

What a fucking stupid thread. You understand that the problem is that downed power lines can cause fires, right? However many men we put on the moon and whatever year it is, we’re not going to be able to snap our fingers and cancel out the potential effects of high winds. You might as well rail about construction companies that can’t build hurricane-proof roofs In 2019 In The Country That Put A Man On The Moon.

Buried power lines seldom have these issues. But that requires more upfront capital.

I think that may be overstating the case slightly.

I think that there are a couple of thousand middle management types in the company who could take over and do a good job though.

You’re absolutely right about how ridiculous the cult of the “CEO” is though.