California's governor on Friday threatened a possible takeover of the troubled utility blamed for sparking deadly wildfires across the state with its outdated equipment unless it can emerge from bankruptcy ahead of next year's wildfire season with a plan focused on safety.
Gov. Gavin Newsom called all sides to a meeting early next week, saying he would personally try to mediate a solution involving Pacific Gas & Electric. But if an agreement can't be reached, Newsom said, "then the state will prepare itself as backup for a scenario where we do that job for them."
PG&E has come under more scrutiny in recent weeks as it cut off power to millions of people to avoid a repeat of last year's deadly fire season. The shutoffs have angered residents, businesses and local governments, who say the company has done a poor job of communicating.
It's unclear how the state could take over PG&E in the event it does not meet the June 30th deadline. But the governor's office pointed to General Motors as an example. The automaker filed for bankruptcy in 2009, and the federal government purchased a controlling stake in the company. The government later sold its shares once the company was on solid footing.
Pacific Gas & Electric filed for bankruptcy earlier this year after a 2018 wildfire mostly destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people. An investigation revealed the fire was started by one of the company's powerlines that was knocked down during a windstorm.The utility is facing up to $30 billion in damages from that fire and others.
With files from the Associated Press
We invited Governor Gavin Newsom to participate in our discussion but he was not available to us at the time we requested. We also contacted PG&E to request comment, but as of the airing of this segment we had not received a response. We will update this segment if we hear back from them.
Bill Dodd (D-Napa), State Senator representing California’s Third Senate District, which is comprised largely of Yolo County but also includes cities in Sacramento, Solano, Sonoma, Contra Costa and Napa Counties in the northern San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta region he tweets @BillDoddCA
Severin Borenstein, professor of business administration and public policy at UC Berkeley; he is also faculty director of the Energy Institute at Berkley’s Haas School of Business; he tweets @BorensteinS