Around town this past week ... at coffee, at club meetings, at shops, downtown, at the mall, at the bowling alley ... someone was talking about fires and shutoffs and very likely about generators. They were talking about how much they are using the generator they already have, or how they wish they had one, or how it’s hard to find one for sale within a reasonable distance ...
People are put off by the power outages Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is using to limit liability and prevent wildfires, but generally are understanding of the necessity. Those same people who have or wish they had generators are generally from the foothills and have been close to fires of the past ... it’s not like they’re happy about shutoffs, but sure don’t want a fire.
For some, however, the talk turns to the idea of some sort of compensation being made for losses and expenses. The more frequent and longer shutoffs become, that’s more likely to be a hot topic.
Meanwhile, in interviews we read or hear with people living through the big fires to the south, the idea of leaving California comes up. Maybe there are areas outside of cities that should be inhabited anymore.
The governor talks about PGE’s failures and ramping up the timeframe for hardening and fire-proofing the system (10 years is way too long; a couple years should do it). Talk to other lawmakers and you’re bound to hear arguments for breaking up PGE and any of the dozens of ideas for how to do that.
And if you talk to local legislators James Gallagher and Jim Nielsen there’s some recognition that more than just blame and shame should be discussed -- they believe a solution for speeding up the revamping of infrastructure might be to route funds being dedicated to switching to renewable energy sources to fire-proofing the grid. That seems practical, but is likely a real partisan-line topic.
But their idea is more practical than other talk. And practicality is what we need ... that’s becoming more and more evident. More laws and tougher regulation and punishment meted out to power companies isn’t going to keep the juice on.
There’s a lot to talk about, but where do you start and where do you go with it?
Our View editorials represent the opinion of the Appeal–Democrat and its editorial board and are edited by the publisher and/or editor. Members of the editorial board include: Publisher Glenn Stifflemire and Editor Steve Miller.