SACRAMENTO, CA October 28, 2019 – As Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E) second Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) continues to leave millions without power, Assemblymember Marc Levine (D – Marin County) today announced urgency legislation to authorize the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to temporarily appoint a Public Administrator to oversee the management of PG&E. Levine plans to introduce the legislation when the legislature reconvenes in January 2020.
Under Levine’s proposal, the CPUC would establish a test to determine if a Public Administrator should be appointed to oversee PG&E. The test would include an analysis of PG&E’s financial health, the reliability of the utility’s infrastructure and its safety record. The Public Administrator would be authorized to work with PG&E leadership and make decisions necessary to restore critical infrastructure, ensure that proper safety protocols are followed and increase public confidence in the utility. Once the CPUC is able to determine that PG&E has complied with these financial, infrastructure and safety requirements, full management responsibilities would be returned to PG&E.
During the week of October 7, 2019, PG&E initiated a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), forcing blackouts on over 2 million Californians, preventing 130,000 students from attending school and causing economic losses estimated in the billions. After that event, PG&E’s CEO William Johnson speculated that these blackout events could occur for another decade.
Earlier this year, PG&E acknowledged that its equipment was responsible for the 2018 Camp Fire that killed 85 people and was the most destructive wildfire in California history. PG&E has also recently acknowledged that its equipment may have cause the current Kincade Fire in Sonoma County that has burned 66,231 acres, destroyed at least 96 structures, threatened an additional 80,000 structures and forced the evacuation of 185,000 people.
PG&E’s current PSPS is impacting over 960,000 customer accounts in Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Kern, Lake, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yolo and Yuba counties.
“In every possible way, PG&E has failed the people of California by neglecting its responsibilities for decades and prioritizing profits over public safety,” said Assemblymember Levine. “We cannot allow PG&E’s poor leadership to continue to harm California residents or our state’s economy which is more and more dependent upon a clean, safe and reliable supply of electricity. We need a responsible adult in the room to right PG&E’s wrongs. My proposal to create a Public Administrator for PG&E will help this utility refocus its priorities on safety and increase needed public confidence in this essential public utility service.”