Nevada City mayor slams PG&E, calls for its dismantling (VIDEO) | TheUnion.com

Nevada City mayor slams PG&E, calls for its dismantling (VIDEO)

John Orona
Staff Writer

know & go

What: Public workshop about Nevada City’s telecom ordinance

Where: City Hall, 317 W. Broad St., Nevada City

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

Residents and attendees of the Nevada City Council meeting stepped into the dark night bearing head lamps, Christmas lights and glow sticks.

They protested PG&E’s planned power outage, but also celebrated it for bringing them together.

“With all the smart meters and smart devices and smart grids and real-time data that we have, can’t we know when the wind is blowing and then turn the power off?” said Mayor Reinette Senum during the Wednesday night protest as people gathered outside City Hall. “I think people are very suspicious of that.”

Senum, who coordinated the parade, called for the dismantling of PG&E, and for a protest of the company.

During the protest Senum questioned PG&E’s decision to shut off power, saying that although she supports the move in cases of extreme weather, it should proactively turn it back on when that weather doesn’t materialize.

Senum said that because the company is a monopoly, they are not being held accountable and not compelled to provide complete information.

“Right now they’re rather tyrannical,” Senum said of the utility company. “We’re being strong-armed and I think pretty much everyone feels that. Why exactly they’re doing this and to what full extent who knows, but it’s certainly not what we’re being told.”

The mayor said she supports the break up of the company as a starting point, but would ultimately like to see it in the hands of the public.

“Anything that we’re dependent upon — water, power, banks — should be owned by the public,” Senum said. “Communities should really start looking toward solutions, whatever that may be.”

On Wednesday PG&E cut power to millions in an area that included the Sierra foothills, where a November wildfire blamed on PG&E transmission lines killed 85 people and all but incinerated the town of Paradise. Other areas affected by Wednesday’s outage included the San Francisco Bay Area, the wine country north of San Francisco and the agricultural Central Valley.

The utility warned that customers might have to do without power for days after the winds subside because “every inch” of the system must be inspected by helicopters and thousands of workers on the ground, and declared safe before the grid is reactivated.

MEETING CONDENSED

Due to the power outage the council had to condense its Wednesday meeting to the most pressing items.

During the meeting, the council approved consent items, rescheduled other items and heard public comments, most of which centered on opposition to the recently passed ordinance regulating telecom facilities.

At one point, three audience members had to be escorted from the front of the council dais after demanding the council rescind the ordinance following the public comment period.

The council also set a 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday public workshop at City Hall, 317 W. Broad St., to gather public input on the telecom ordinance. It’s expected to hear recommendations on amending that ordinance at its next meeting.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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