MATHER — Out of the gate Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom lit up Pacific Gas and Electric for its decision to turn out the lights.
“It’s decisions that were not made that have led to this moment in PG&E’s history and the state of California as it relates to our major investor-owned utility,” Gov. Newsom said. “It is not conditions. This is not, from my perspective, a climate change story as much as a story about greed and mismanagement.”
The power shut-offs have affected millions of Californians in PG&E’s effort to keep sparking lines from tarnishing the Golden State with another wind-whipped disaster.
“A desire to advance not public safety but profits. Over the course of years and years and years, the kind of hardening of the grid was not done,” Newsom said.
While confronting people wasting $4 gas to charge their phones in their cars and the reality of closed schools, Newsom promised intense, ongoing scrutiny of PG&E’s compliance with new legislation signed since the state’s most devastating blaze, the Camp Fire.
The utility pledged to modernize equipment across its system, one of the biggest made by PG&E since Paradise was ravaged.
Amid mounting community frustration, which has already produced attacks against utility employees, PG&E’s CEO William Johnson again put himself in front of microphones.
“We faced a choice here between hardship on everyone or safety and we chose safety,” Johnson told reporters at Thursday’s press conference. “It is a false choice to say it’s hardship or safety.”
However, there was one thing the leader of the state’s largest investor-owned utility and the leader of the state agree on right now.
“This is not the future any of us want to live in,” Johnson said. “Our goal over time is to reduce wildfire risks further across the system, to shut off power less frequently and to further minimize the impact of shut-offs.”
The governor said he was only willing to accept those words if they are backed up with meaningful action.
“This can’t be, respectfully, the new normal,” he said.