California Public Utilities Commission took the “extraordinary” step Monday of issuing a press release about their president directing Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to shape up and take corrective actions. It was in response to the company’s unprecedented power shutoffs in Northern California.
Why extraordinary? Because it’s remarkably lame. Because it’s surprisingly late to the game. Because it won’t really do anything if PG&E doesn’t do anything. We’re making generalizations ... based on past performance.
CPUC President Marybel Batjer ordered PG&E to “take a multitude of immediate corrective actions after it encountered significant problems with communication, coordination, and management during the largest (power shutoff) event in the history of California.”
Batjer said that this sort of thing should never happen again.
Welcome to the consensus, CPUC.
The shutoff, it was noted, during the week of Oct. 7, affected 700,000 customers and impacted an estimated 2 million people. Locally, it affected some 8,000 people in Yuba County and more than a thousand in Colusa.
“The scope, scale, complexity, and overall impact to people’s lives, businesses, and the economy of this action cannot be understated,” Batjer was quoted in the press release.
It was explained that she sent an urgent letter to PGE Chief Executive Officer William Johnson outlining seven major areas where “immediate corrective actions are required.”
Included in the list of corrective actions:
– Acceleration of the restoration of power with a goal of less than 12 hours –similar to what is required after major storms.
– Enhancing efforts to minimize the size and magnitude of future shutoffs.
– Developing systems and protocols to ensure public information through call centers and PGE’s website remains available during high-volume, critical times.
– Establishment of a more effective communication structure with county and tribal government emergency management personnel.
– Improving processes and systems for distributing maps with boundaries to impacted counties that correspond to the latest shutoff impact information being provided.
– Development of a list of existing and possible future agreements for on-call resources that can be called upon in case of an emergency.
– Ensuring that PGE personnel in emergency operations centers are trained in the state’s standardized emergency management systems.
– File an after action review with the CPUC by the end of business Oct. 17, including weekly updates on corrective actions.
The CPUC will have an “emergency meeting” Friday in San Francisco to hear from PGE executives about the lessons learned from the event and steps being taken to improve performance.
All good stuff. Our questions: So what? Or what? What will happen if PGE doesn’t live up to these expectations? Will something more happen than has happened in the past when PGE management was lacking?
We’d like to see a press release from Batjer outlining how CPUC plans to effectively monitor remedial actions by PGE, what their deadlines and goals are, and what the consequences will be if the goals and deadlines aren’t met.
Time to get in the game for reals, CPUC.