A few observations:
Let’s not wait to debate – What’s questionable is in what sort of shape Pacific Gas & Electric will emerge from the financial morass it’s stumbled in. What’s not questionable is that the erstwhile private utility company is not going to be top-notch at catching up with all the equipment improvements it needs to make to prevent additional wildfire disasters.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. reported last week that, “the company believes it is probable that its equipment will be determined to be an ignition point of the 2018 Camp Fire.”
The Camp Fire destroyed thousands of homes in and around Paradise in Butte County, and killed 85 people in November, 2018. Add that to the list of other fire disasters and add to the billions of dollars in costs and liabilities the company will be dealing with.
The utility company filed for bankruptcy protection because of massive losses from wildfires up and down the state that PG&E equipment was involved in. As reported, at least 20 lawsuits have been filed so far, accusing the utility of allowing equipment to spark the blaze. Plaintiffs say the utility didn’t properly maintain power lines.
One lawsuit, according to the LA Times story, claimed that PGE diverted “necessary safety-related expenditures into funding corporate bonuses, boosting shareholder profits, and/or fueling advertising campaigns – while ignoring the serious and irreparable nature of the public safety threat posed by its aging infrastructure and ineffective vegetation management practices.”
We’re not advocating for a state-run utility. But it is now a state problem. We need to have a lot of catching up done to deliver energy safely through all sorts of conditions ... and we doubt the private utility, in its present state, will be able to do all the upgrades needed in a timely fashion.
But remember patience – Let’s not get caught up in the dramatics of PGE and forget about the victims. Thousands of people are living somewhere else now.
Life has to be harder when your home burns down, when your neighborhood burns down, when your town burns down and you have to stay somewhere else ... indefinitely.
You would be grateful for any help you received. But you would also regret the loss; resent the loss. And after a few months of living in a trailer miles away from where your home was, where your work used to be, you might be going a little stir crazy, a little pent up.
We all need to remember that we’re not just dealing with a bunch of new neighbors, when we consider all those who have found housing in Yuba-Sutter, whether through private means or via the FEMA program. We’re hosting a bunch of new neighbors who escaped tragedy with their lives but practically nothing else.
And it’s going to be that way for a long, long time.
Preventing water disasters – We’re appreciative of the news that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a $35 million contract to continue strengthening a stretch of Sutter County levees. The project covers repairs and strengthening on about five more miles of the Feather River west levee from Tudor Road and Cypress Avenue in south Sutter County.
Work will take place over about two years. The project involves installation of cutoff walls as deep as 140 feet into existing levees.
Yuba-Sutter has survived some major floods. We’re all a little touchy when we see the rain coming down and the rivers lapping up into the trees. News about more levee fortifications is always good ... we will never be done improving flood protection ... it’s our way of life.
Here’s hoping the funding survives all upcoming political drama in D.C.