‘This really shouldn’t need an Act of Congress to fix…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) Pacific Gas and Electric is purposefully shutting off power for 800,000 Californians because of high winds.
It signaled yet another way in which California “is becoming a Third-World country,” despite fancying “itself as one of the top world economies,” said Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif.
“We are all now paying the price for years of mandates and lawsuits that prevent sensible policy in regard to electricity generation and delivery, as well as hindering forest practices that help stay clear of the grid and provide fire breaks and buffers to communities when fires do occur in our forests,” LaMalfa said in a press release.
PG&E, which was responsible for a 2018 wildfire that killed 85, said it is worried that winds blowing between 40 and 55 mph with gusts up to 70 mph could cause their equipment to spark a wildfire, The Washington Post reported.
LaMalfa said the power shut-offs indicate a broader problem in California that has been growing “the last few years.”
“Expecting the power to stay on when the wind blows isn’t that giant a leap for mankind, yet here we are 50 years after the first moon landing having great inconvenience and personal or economic losses for many of our residents,” he said.
“Decades of frivolous lawsuits, foot dragging bureaucracies, and a virtual ‘no touch’ forest policy have coupled with onerous regulations on utilities on where, when, how, and what kind of electricity to generate. It has all come home to roost,” he added.
In a dystopian-sounding report, PG&E apologized to families, businesses and communities—and especially those who need power for “medical equipment and refrigeration.”
But the company promised that they “will only consider proactively turning off power when the benefits of de-energization outweigh potential public safety risks.”
LaMalfa said he talked with the CEO of PG&E, and is working with the California Legislature, the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. Forest Service to slow this issue.
“We passed good baseline legislation through a reluctant California Legislature because I fought for it,” LaMalfa said.
“Through my efforts in Congress, we have changed laws to speed up clearing dangerous trees near power lines that could cause fires,” he continued. “Now, we need to enable the U.S. Forest Service and utilities to do the work in a legal and timely manner so we can have safe power lines and provide reliable power to all of our homes.”
PG&E said it’s acting with extra caution due to strict California’s liability law, which finds utility companies liable for damage caused by their equipment, even if the company is not negligent,
California’s Democratic-controlled state legislature has mostly stonewalled.
California Democrats agreed to loosen the liability law only slightly, and for utilities to earn a lower liability threshold for damage caused by their equipment, they have to implement “billions of dollars in safety improvements to power lines, transformers, and other equipment,” The Washington Post reported.
“New laws and funding in Congress are providing the latitude and empowerment to do the common-sense clearing along power lines without the past major delays for permits,” said LaMalfa.
“This really shouldn’t need an Act of Congress to fix,” he said. “I will continue to work for solutions as these long power outages are preventable and our utilities should be—and need to be—empowered to do more to prevent potential fires.”