With power outages poised to spread to 7 percent of his state’s population, California Governor Gavin Newsom is both supporting electric utilities’ decisions to turn the lights off and criticizing Pacific Gas and Electric.
“I don’t think they’re making a mistake, as it relates to proactive measures to mitigate the prospect of fires,” Newsom said at a bill signing ceremony in San Diego Wednesday. “I think that’s the right decision.”
Yet Newsom also acknowledged the frustration of his constituents. He blamed Pacific Gas and Electric for putting the state in a situation where the blackouts were necessary.
“They’re in bankruptcy because of their terrible management, going back decades,” the governor said. “They created these conditions.”
And then he pointed to San Diego Gas & Electric, a utility that’s drawn wide praise for hardening its grid and bolstering its wildfire prevention efforts, as an example of how PG&E should have done better.
“I’m outraged because it didn’t need to happen,” Newsom said. “Didn’t need to happen if you had an investor-owned utility that was making the kind of investments that your investor-owned utility was making down here, and focusing on modern transmission lines, and focusing on modern ways of turning on and off lights that wouldn’t be disruptive in the aggregate to a million or 2 million people.”
The “public safety power shutoffs” initiated by PG&E, SDG&E and Southern California Edison either have or could cut electricity to nearly 3 million Californians.