Dennis McKenzie: PG&E’s corruption, greed and malfeasance
Founded right here in Nevada City in 1905, PG&E went on to become a leading power provider in America but over the years they became big, complacent and greedy.
You only have to go back to the natural gas explosion of 2010 in San Bruno where eight people were killed and a neighborhood burnt to the ground because PG&E had failed to adequately service and maintain the natural gas lines. They were held criminally responsible and the judge wanted to know why they had spent billions of dollars on shareholder profits, executive bonuses and millions in donations to politicians and not using the money to maintain and improve their delivery systems. Great questions!
The fact is that for years before and after San Bruno PG&E has been scrimping on maintenance, such as cutting back trees and branches, in order to better line their pockets with cash. They didn’t learn from the San Bruno explosion and the Camp Fire followed last year in which the town of Paradise and many of its citizens were cremated.
To add “fuel to the fire,” Gov. Gavin Newsom received over $200,000 in campaign donations after PG&E was certified as a convicted felon and he has yet to return it to victims of the Camp Fire or other PG&E victims. Do not believe a word out of his mouth and be suspect of any of his actions. Yet our governor is not the only one responding to legalized bribes. PG&E gave out over $500,000 each to both Democrats and Republicans and eight out of 10 politicians took the money.
Now, as you know, PG&E has filed for bankruptcy to protect themselves from all the lawsuits, etc., but in June of 2019 they still sought to give out $11 million dollars in executive bonuses. The former CEO of PG&E was only aboard from March of 2017 to January of 2018 but was given a “golden handshake” retirement of $9.3 million. The new CEO, Bill Johnson, was just hired this April and was given a $3 million signing bonus and over $2.5 million in base pay. Really! Is there no one else in the world that could do a competent job for less? Apparently not, according to PG&E. Here we have a company that is a convicted felon, declared bankruptcy and is still spending cash like they have a limitless supply, and I guess they do … us! Simply stick it to the customers!
But isn’t the Public Utilities Commission supposed to oversee PG&E? Well, unfortunately, this watchdog agency composed of appointees of former Gov. Brown and Gavin Newsom doesn’t seem to see anything wrong in what PG&E is doing and has even approved their raising their latest rates. So this “watchdog agency” is really a “lapdog agency” to PG&E and the politicians. Have you gotten your robo-call yet about your rate increase? Are you starting to see patterns here of corruption and gross mismanagement?
If all of this isn’t bad enough, now that every time a leaf wiggles on a tree PG&E gives us a “Public Safety Power Shutoff.” Well OK, one of them was legitimate, the others a farce. This is nothing more than “CYA” for their past incompetent actions.
The new CEO says it will take PG&E a decade to fix the problems, but “good grief” it only took six years to build the Transcontinental Railroad. But then we’re dealing with PG&E so what can we expect — for them to all of a sudden start acting responsibly?
So what can we do?
Call Gov. Newsom’s office at 916-445-2841 and order him to do something besides talk, and to return the $200,000 PG&E blood money. If he fails to do so, let him know he will be recalled or voted out of office
Call the California PUC at 415-703-2782 and remind them that they work for us and to not allow any more rate increases until PG&E can prove they have stopped their gross bonuses and executive pay.
Call your local representative and insist that PG&E change their grid system to better reflect the different micro-environments in which we live and to stop non-sensible power outages.
Take heart, there is strength in numbers. We will ultimately prevail but only if we stay on top of this.
In the meantime bundle up for the next fake outage or fire up one of the gazillion generators people are now forced to buy so we can all add to climate change. Thank you, PG&E!
Dennis McKenzie is a college instructor and retired police officer who served over 30 years. He lives in Nevada City.
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