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Venezuela comes to California: California’s biggest electric utility today cut off power to more than one million people in order to prevent wildfires.
The utility said it cut power to more than 500,000 customers in Northern California and that it plans to gradually turn off electricity to nearly 800,000 customers to prevent its equipment from starting wildfires during hot, windy weather. A second group of about 234,000 customers will lose power starting at noon, the utility said. The power outages are expected to affect about 2.5 million people.
PG&E filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late January after facing liabilities stemming from wildfires in Northern California that occurred over the past two years.
The utility plans to shut off power in parts of 34 northern, central and coastal California counties to reduce the chance of fierce winds knocking down or toppling trees into power lines during a siege of hot, dry, gusty weather.
This approach doesn’t really make any sense. It is like shutting down all car traffic for miles around schools at the start and end of each day, in the hope it will prevent kids getting hit by cars. It won’t, but it will prevent normal business from proceeding.
PG&E however is taking this nonsensical action because of the legal atmosphere in California. They have been made liable for any future wildfires. They eventually intend to upgrade equipment to prevent it from contributing to future fires, but that costs money the bankrupt power company doesn’t have. And even if they did it they would probably still be blamed by the anti-capitalist forces that now run California’s increasingly radical government.
Unless Californians change their government, expect worse in the coming years. As I say, we need only look at Venezuela to see their future.