As polarized as politics are today, one thing everyone can agree on is that shutting people’s power off is unpopular.
In fact, both sides of the aisle have been making the same arguments.
They understand for safety reasons why Pacific Gas and Electric is doing their Public Safety Power Shuttoff. But politicians up and down the state have been saying the same thing -- it never should have gotten to this point.
Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher, who represents parts of Sutter and Butte counties where his constituents have been hit hard by wildfires the past few years, nearly echoed one another in their critiques of the utility’s preemptive shut-offs.
“It was unnecessary. They’re in bankruptcy because of their terrible management going back decades. They’ve created these conditions. It was unnecessary. We’re doing everything in our power, my gosh, doing everything in our power to help them help themselves. Now, it’s time for them to do the right thing and get out of bankruptcy and get this system to the 21st century,” Newsom said.
“This is the turn of the century. We’re talking early 1900s infrastructure that hasn’t been upgraded. And now the sort of the status quo, or people are saying new normal, is we’re not going to do anything about that? We’re just going to start turning your power off. That’s the answer? That can’t be the answer," Gallagher said.
Republican Sen. Jim Nielsen, who represents Paradise where the Camp Fire devastated the entire town, also criticized the power shut-offs. As did Democratic Sen. Scott Weiner, who represents San Francisco and parts of the Bay.
Nielsen said in part, “Millions without electricity is what a third world country looks like, not a state that is the 5th largest economy in the world.”
And Sen. Weiner said, “This is a completely unacceptable state of affairs. While targeted blackouts can help prevent wildfires, we can’t let PG&E normalize these blackouts.”