PG&E: Profit, Greed and Evil

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PxFuel

A lone firefighter battles a raging inferno. As of Sept. 11, over 3000 homes have been lost, with billions in damages.

Oscar Torres, Edgar Mendoza, and Sean Davis

California has become a raging hellscape of fire and smoke, with countless people losing everything they hold dear. Amidst the ash and loss, followed a series of blackouts, many of which were put into effect by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Their history of failing to upgrade transmission lines in favor of spending on lobbyists and public relations has created a profit mismanagement monstrosity.

It’s time to bring Pacific Gas and Electric into public ownership, making it democratically accountable to the people of California and its workers.

PG&E serves over 5 million Californians, and is alleged to be responsible for many of the dozens of wildfires devastating the state in the past decade. Following these tragic events, the nation’s largest utility company chose not to take accountability.

Instead, they filed for bankruptcy, freezing any lawsuits against them, denying those seeking consolation any form of closure or hope.

This company is driven by shareholders and investors who are prioritized over the people that the company serves.

This is not a one time negligence.

In 2010, PG&E’s failure caused the San Bruno explosion which registered 1.1 on the Richter scale, killing eight people and leveling 38 houses.

In 2017, during the North Bay Fires, PG&E’s equipment was implicated in 12 of the 13 wildfires that hit counties in and around Santa Rosa.

Most recently in 2018, PG&E’s negligence led to the Camp Fire, claiming 85 lives and causing billions in damages with a fire large enough to be visible from space.

We as a community must see these failures, and take action to bring the company into public ownership. Bankruptcy will not be an excuse to not pay the people what they are owed. These victims deserve compensation.

Transitioning to a publicly owned energy company for the state of California will allow the people of this state to effectively battle climate change in a real way.

Public ownership means public demands for climate action must be met. Movement to green renewable energy will take place, not because it is profitable, but because it is necessary.

Upon filing for bankruptcy in January of 2019, the company owed over $50 billion in debt, and we cannot let them escape by passing the debt onto us.

We must refuse to pay their debts, and hold them accountable for their own financial mismanagement. No pay rate increases for customers, no easy way out and no bailouts this time.

The most efficient solution is public ownership, so that the company is not existing with a knife held to its throat by Wall Street investors.

A publicly owned system would prioritize the people’s needs, eliminating the private ownership abuse that takes place. It’s time to protest so that wealthy elites are no longer the ones with the microphone.

The public needs meaningful input, with transparency and a space for public hearings and comments. Power and gas are essential goods, and should be discussed as a necessary human right. Start local conversations and host local meetings to discuss the quality and cost of the services provided to you, and then take those ideas to the streets until you are heard.

Speak to every person with influence you can, so that greener alternatives and renewable power become prominent talking points.

By protesting and attending meetings, you can help make a system driven by the public not profit.

Get out there and demand transparency, take them to court, and do not ever stop fighting. Struggling for a world that takes climate change seriously must be linked to the struggle to take profit and economic aims out of the energy business.

They caused and exacerbated these fires, but now we’ve decided to started our own: the fires of change.