Electricity and Ideology – Competing Priorities in California

“If I wanted the power shut off for days by bloated, corrupt utilities enabled by bloated, corrupt one-party politicians,” quipped Harmeet Dhillon, a San Francisco attorney and prominent conservative political activist, “I would have stayed in India.”

Dhillon’s observation pretty much sums up the frustration felt by millions of Californians last week. In Northern California, nearly 800,000 homes and businesses went without power. Some of them had power shut off for five days. In Southern California, even as the Saddleridge fire raged through neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley, another 25,000 homes had their power shut off.

But while it’s tempting to accept Dhillon’s statement at face value, the causes of California’s wildfire challenges are many and complex.

For example, while any public utility as massive as Pacific Gas and Electric is bound to have pockets of bloat and corruption within, that isn’t the reason Californians experienced devastating wildfires in the summer of 2018. And while California’s one-party politicians have arguably enabled PG&E and other utilities by relieving them of a portion of their liability for wildfires, these same politicians have saddled PG&E with renewables mandates that diverted billions of dollars which could have been spent on wildfire mitigation.

Bureaucrats and politicians have used a shopworn phrase, “the new normal,” to describe California’s supposed future of endless and devastating wildfires. Last week we heard it again, this time in reference to massive power outages deliberately imposed to prevent these wildfires. But neither of these […] Read More