Suing PG&E Over Fires

by Jack

PG&E is a public utility company, meaning their rates are regulated by the government. About 10 years ago they tried a free floating price on energy, but the State of California and PG&E quickly found out, that you need energy supply competition in order to make it work. Having a fixed demand then being forced to pay whatever the energy suppliers demanded not only stupid, it was a form of theft. Before this failed experiment in capitalism was over PG&E was bankrupt and I lost a bundle of my retirement money in their stock.

So, now we are about to embark on a class action lawsuit that will in theory, force this utility company to pay for the entire Camp Fire losses and those in Napa from last year. Both of these monster fires are being blamed on downed power lines. But, it’s still not entirely clear that this was truly the proximate cause of ignition. Yes, PG&E should be held responsible for gross negligence. We can agree on that, but to what degree? This is where we start to estimate the responsibilities that are involved in each incident. More on this in a moment.

The gas pipe line explosion in San Bruno is a reasonable example when you have deferred maintenance. That was a 100% preventable incident therefore the award is not reduced by any outside contributory factors. But, what about this Camp Fire power lines that allegedly failed on these big transmission towers? Should PG&E be expected to inspect every line, every connection, every spark, whenever the wind blows or if there’s a blip on the power gauge? And if they are to be 100% responsible should something go wrong, who really pays? I think you know who pays…. we do. PG&E will ask for rate increases to the PUC whenever overhead costs, especially costs driven by safety concerns or lawsuits, make it necessary to do so. If they didn’t get some relief via a rate increase they would be out of business by tomorrow. Then where do you get your power and natural gas?

There is a Latin saying, “Vernum anim” As in, “but for…” a long, dry, draught there would have been no fire from a downed line. But for…. high winds placing excessive stress on a couple there would have been no downed line. But for….the need to keep electrical rates down there was not enough inspectors to insure couplers would not wear out before they failed.

Does PG&E have a reasonable safety record and does it compare well with other state’s utilities? I believe it does. All utility companies will have downed lines for a myriad of reasons, but mostly it’s the weather. What happens next depends on what those lines fall on. In California, if a rural power line falls onto dry brush a fire is almost inevitable. Was this a 100% foreseeable event? No, of course not.

PG&E does its best to control transmission lines, but they can’t control the weather. And it appears we the public don’t like it when they turn off the power whenever winds gust. So they do whatever anyone else would do in the same situation, they do the best they can and they try to compensate people for any loss should an accident happen. But, who pays when a town burns? Were there any other factors that were beyond the control of PG&E that resulted in the fire spreading quickly? Absolutely and fingers can be pointed at many people now and they probably will be too. But, the really deep pockets are found at PG&E and as I write you know there are lawyers piling on sue them. That part is a shame and it’s going to cost all of us (except for the lawyers).

This entry was posted in Business and Industry, Energy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Suing PG&E Over Fires

  1. J. Soden says:

    The ambulance chasers are thick upon the ground. And we don’t even know what caused the Camp Fire yet!

  2. Libby says:

    “… PG&E was bankrupt and I lost a bundle of my retirement money in their stock.”

    Condolences … but frankly … you should have seen it coming. I hope you’ve liquidated any health care assets?

    This is America, where essential services are provided to all, profitability notwithstanding. If you Chicoans had been paying a “market” rate for electricity all these years, you would NOT have an investment account. Think on that, and be grateful the rest of us are willing to carry you.

    And again, frankly, legislation is in the works to protect the PGE from litigation, which will be passed, because the continued operation of our gas and electric grid is NOT an option. This will likely cause a huge political stink, which I think could be avoided by:

    1) Abolishing the Public Utilities Commission which has long been a farce; and
    2) Seizing the PGE for a truly public utility.

    “Does PG&E have a reasonable safety record and does it compare well with other state’s utilities? I believe it does.”

    Boy have you got a short memory. City of Burlingame ring a bell? And, it would seem, the PGE is being criticized for making a POLITICAL decision not to cut power to Concow at the first indications of trouble. And think how you rurals would have howled. It might have forestalled your 100-year fire … but you would not know that … just howl.

    • Tina says:

      Libby: “Boy have you got a short memory. City of Burlingame ring a bell?”

      Unreasonable fear over a superior solution, insulated underground wires?

      Or are you thinking of San Bruno, which Jack did mention in his article?

      • Libby says:

        SB and C0B are right next to each other … natural mistake.

        “Unreasonable fear over a superior solution, insulated underground wires?”

        What are you talking about? This costs money, lots of it. And cost-benefit-wise, it makes sense in urban areas. Fearful or not, Concow will never see the day.

        • Tina says:

          Once again you are short sighted (and so is PG& E).

          In order to evaluate the real cost/benefit PG& E must include the costs associated with lawsuits and maintenance and repair over at least 10-15 years. They won’t because underground wires would ultimately mean less hazardous work pay for their unionized employees. They also won’t because they’d have to reveal that PG& E is protected by an agreement with the state for taxpayers to cover their actual legal costs.

          The state desn’t care either…they benefit from the “fines” imposed on PGE…the California Public Utilities Commission recommended that PG&E pay a $2.25 billion penalty in the SB case. A lot of that money ends up in Democrat pockets at election time.

          How hard/expensive is it to dig ditches…compared to installing poles and then maintaining them? You have to count all of the associated costs!

          People should be well paid for the work they do. They should not be excessively overpaid because of deals made by union bosses with government against the people. Non-union ditch diggers could do it a lot less expensively and still pay good wages compared to the inflated wages and perks these union workers get. This is one of the reasons it’s so damned expensive to live in the Bay Area and other metropolitan areas in the state.

          • Libby says:

            “The state desn’t care either…they benefit from the “fines” imposed on PGE…”

            This is nonsense. Any fines, judgments, settlements are paid by us, the rate payers … who make up the state. You don’t think at all … you spout nonsensical prejudice … and it is boundlessly irritating.

            “Non-union ditch diggers ….”

            And this kind of truly heartless blather make me very, very angry. Lordy, would I love to put you on a crew, or one of you grandkids maybe? Six bucks an hour and no bennies … for all the rest of their lives? Yeah, let’s do it!

    • Joe says:

      “Think on that, and be grateful the rest of us are willing to carry you.”

      Hah! Jack, Libby has been carrying you all these years.

  3. Libby says:

    Off Topic: … but, Oh, I just have to share … from Slate:

    Michael Cohen, we learned Thursday, lied to Congress about the extent of his work on a Moscow real estate deal in 2016 on behalf of the Trump Organization. Cohen testified before Congress that the development deal went kaput in January 2016, when, in reality, negotiations on building a 100-story Trump Town Moscow stretched into June 2016 shortly after then-candidate Trump clinched the GOP nomination on May 26th. The deal, which quietly lingered throughout the primaries, financially links Trump and his family to the Kremlin in an unflattering, though not explicitly criminal way—yet. Adding to the now thickening air of quid pro quo around the deal is BuzzFeed’s report that, according to four sources, the Trump Organization planned to gift Russian President Vladimir Putin a $50 million penthouse in the building, once completed.

    “Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer at the time, discussed the idea with a representative of Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s press secretary,” according to BuzzFeed. A Trump family business associate involved in the Moscow deal, Soviet-born Felix Sater—who had previously pleaded guilty to racketeering and at one point went to prison for attacking a man with the stem of a margarita glass during a bar fight—told BuzzFeed that “he and Cohen thought giving the Trump Tower’s most luxurious apartment, a $50 million penthouse, to Putin would entice other wealthy buyers to purchase their own.” “In Russia, the oligarchs would bend over backwards to live in the same building as Vladimir Putin,” Sater said. “My idea was to give a $50 million penthouse to Putin and charge $250 million more for the rest of the units. All the oligarchs would line up to live in the same building as Putin.”

    And I so enjoy myself imagining how many times your Mueller investigator has had to pick his jaw up off the floor.

    These people! I swear! And you wonder why I want to tax every dime right out of their hands.

    • Tina says:

      Libby rubs her little hands together with glee over a big fat nothing burger…glee built on hatred, resentment, and hope.

      Biz Pac Review cites The Wall Street Journal and Katherine Herridge of FOX:

      “Mr. Cohen asked for and received Mr. Trump’s signature on a nonbinding letter of intent for the project in October 2015,” The Wall Street Journal notes, adding that the efforts incidentally began a few months after Trump began running for the presidency.

      “Both Mr. Cohen and another Trump associate … said in emails obtained by investigators that they planned to enlist top Russian officials’ help for the project. In January 2016, Mr. Cohen sought help from Mr. Putin’s top press official in arranging the deal.”

      During meetings with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees a year later, Cohen lied about the specific timing and extent of these communications with Russian officials.

      According to Fox News chief Intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge, it’s this lie that Cohen copped to Thursday morning. Nothing more, nothing less. …

      … More importantly, she highlighted a statement made by Cohen in which he admitted that not only did the real estate project deal have nothing to do with the campaign, but that it was ultimately cancelled.

      “The Trump Tower Moscow proposal was not related in any way to Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign,” he said, according to Herridge. “Moreover, the proposal had nothing to do with any alleged collusion with Russia regarding the U.S. presidential election.”

      “Both I and the Trump Organization were evaluating this proposal and many others from solely a business standpoint and rejected going forward on that basis,” he concluded. …

      … “At the end of the day, the consistent fact is that the deal didn’t go through and nobody traveled to Moscow,” Herridge herself explained, thus ruining the left’s anti-Trump parade.

      Big woop…an itty bitty process error.

      It’s not as if people died, as they did in Benghazi…or due to a real criminals phony server and compromised emails.

      They’ve spent seventy million dollars so far for this side show.

      So far the only “collusion” uncovered was among a bunch of FBI and DOJ lawyers who plotted to put Hillary in the WH first and then when that failed, to bring down Potus. This is where we see jaw-dropping evidence:

      Even though the FBI did not have a complete record of Hillary Clinton’s emails on three unclassified personal servers, it found:

      2,093 emails State Dept. currently classifies as Confidential or Secret. (State Dept. did not address what their classification was at the time they were sent.)
      193 emails (81 separate email conversations) that were classified at the time they were sent, ranging from “Confidential” to “Top Secret/Special Access Program.”
      68 of the 81 email chains remain classified today.
      8 were Top Secret.
      37 were Secret.
      36 were Confidential.
      7 were Special Access Program.
      3 were Sensitive Compartmentalized Information.
      36 were Not Releasing to Foreign Governments.
      2 were Releasable Only to Five Allied Partners.
      12 of the suspect email chains were not provided by Hillary’s attorneys. The FBI found them other ways.
      The email chains contained classified information from 5 other agencies: CIA, DOD, FBI, NGA and NSA.

      Hillary lied about all of that and more.

      • Libby says:

        “They’ve spent seventy million dollars so far for this side show.”

        Hee hee hee. I love it when you cite Trump’s Twitterdom as factual authority. Actually … it’s horrifying … but if you’re not going to seize and die … you gotta laugh.

        You be frustrated about Hils … and I’ll be perturbed by the fact that the Russians and Chinese and Lord-Knows-Who-All-Else have been listening in on The Donald’s late-night cell phone confabs with his Buds since day one of his Presidency.

        He can’t learn to use a new phone? He can’t be REQUIRED to learn to use a new phone? This does not sound right to me.

        • Tina says:

          Very funny indeed, Libby. But I wasn’t quoting Trump on Twitter…don’t do Twitter. I have to credit my old eyes for this one…I simply misread the number which was $7 million. The figure has been cited by several news outlets. The Washington Times reported $6.7 million in just the first four months! The Western Journal reported $6.85 million in December 2017. The Washington Post article, “Mueller’s investigation cost $16.7 million in just under a year, new documents show” (ten and a half months). WaPo also posted Trumps Tweet, “….At what point does this soon to be $20,000,000 Witch Hunt, composed of 13 Angry and Heavily Conflicted Democrats and two people who have worked for Obama for 8 years, STOP! They have found no Collussion with Russia, No Obstruction, but they aren’t looking at the corruption…”

          NOTICE…the WaPo left out the part where Trump talked about the corruption (Democrat) that has been unearthed as this investigation totters on in search of a Trump crime.

          “…I’ll be perturbed by the fact that the Russians and Chinese and Lord-Knows-Who-All-Else have been listening in on The Donald’s late-night cell phone confabs …”

          Evidence? Evidence that anything he says is something they can count on policy wise? Any evidence that China or Russia are as fooled by his public comments as opposed to his official word as YOU are? Besides you were NEVER worried about Hillary using unsecured private email or SELLING US Uranium to the Russians even as O’Bummer sold us out the the Iranians who were being aided in their nuclear plans by the Russians…now were you? Someone who defended and supported the most corrupt 8 years of governance I;ve ever seen really has no room to complain.

          “He can’t learn to use a new phone? ”

          You are a blithering idiot, informed by the equally ignorant and blithering CNN and the deviously political Slate. Keep paying attention to the fake crap while he gets on with the job of governing more effectively than any before him has. Your ignorance will not matter one bit.

  4. Libby says:

    “Evidence that anything he says is something they can count on policy wise?”

    You wanna read this again?

    1) You concede the fact.
    2) You are willing to allow the President of these United States to communicate with all and sundry on an unsecured line.
    3) But you simply will not shut up about Hillary and her emailing.

    You really, really, really need to take that pill.

    I mean … I point out that The Donald is apparently unable to learn to use a secured phone … and I’m the idiot ??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *