If there’s one thing the government is good at, it’s fixing massive crises.
If you just rolled your eyes to that statement, then you’ll know that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D-CA) threat to take over energy company PG&E is just as absurd as it sounds.
That’s not to say PG&E can handle the issues that have sparked massive wildfires in California — clearly they can’t — but the idea that the government can step in and solve the problem is laughable.
Newsom said Friday that he wanted get involved in PG&E’s bankruptcy case to get to a solution faster.
“We want to broker that mediation and are calling on all the parties to come in early next week to jumpstart those negotiations,” Newsom said at a news conference, as reported by NPR.
As the outlet reported, Newsom “left little doubt” that he wanted the state government to take part in the company’s restructuring.
“It is my hope that the stakeholders in PG&E will put parochial interests aside and reach a negotiated resolution so that we can create this new company and forever put the old PG&E behind us,” Newsom said in an official statement. “If the parties fail to reach an agreement quickly to begin this process of transformation, the state will not hesitate to step in and restructure the utility.”
Newsom’s statement made several suggestions as to how this restructuring would occur, and the steps he has taken to already make changes to PG&E.
“The major wildfire safety bill that I signed into law earlier this year – AB 1054 – requires PG&E to make these fundamental changes. It forces PG&E to make massive investments in safety, ties executive compensation to the utility’s safety record and demands that every year the utility earn a safety certification from the state,” Newsom said. “And earlier this week, a newly energized California Public Utilities Commission took strong action by opening a major investigation into PG&E’s use of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS), and vowing a total reform of the rules and regulations governing power shutoffs.”
He also said California “is developing the blueprint for a transformed utility. Consistent with AB 1054, PG&E must incorporate that blueprint into its bankruptcy plan.”
Newsom has also appointed an “Energy Czar” to figure out a way to take over PG&E if the bankruptcy case end unsatisfactorily.
“ … I have tapped my Cabinet Secretary, Ana Matosantos, to serve as the state’s Energy Czar to lead a dedicated energy team with Ann Patterson, our lead attorney on the matter, Alice Reynolds, our lead energy and environmental policy expert, and Rachel Wagoner, our senior legislative strategist, spearheading the Administration’s energy efforts,” Newsom said. “They will work closely with other senior leadership in my office, outside legal, financial and energy advisors, and leadership across state government to game out every option and prepare a plan should the state need to intervene. All options are on the table.”
PG&E’s incompetence has resulted in millions of Californians losing their power due to blackouts purposefully implemented by the company. The company said the blackouts were necessary to prevent its outdated and ill-maintained equipment from causing more fires.