San Diego is no stranger to gusty winds and forest fires, so it shouldn’t come as a culture shock when they happen. Power companies should understand how to react to scenarios in which citizens are vulnerable to natural disasters, but Pacific Gas & Electric has forgotten how to be responsible.
Though turning off power to limit fire risks may seem like the right course of action, it has never been used to this extent by any other power company. PG&E is a power giant, located in one of the richest parts of the world. The fact that it can’t seem to keep the lights on speaks volumes about the company’s unreliability.
Since dealing with its January bankruptcy, PG&E has been grappling to return to regular operations. However, it has failed to upgrade infrastructure to better deal with the threat of wildfires, which undoubtedly affected their recent power shutoff decision. A changing environment isn’t an excuse—companies must be willing to adapt and overcome environmental challenges.
PG&E has been wrapped up in shady dealings for far too long. They’ve been convicted of six federal felonies and were fined $1.6 billion for a pipeline explosion in San Bruno back in 2016. From 2012 to 2017, they pressured employees to falsify data related to pipeline safety.
However, they’re more than happy to provide their shareholders with $4.5 billion in dividends and hand out $235 million in employee bonuses while failing to do basic fire prevention in its service area.
In the end, it’s clear to everyone that PG&E is failing as an entity and a business. Dramatic changes need to be made to create safer natural gas solutions at reasonable rates, and if that results in the complete disassembly of PG&E as an entity, then so be it.