John Palmer: A fly on PG&E’s wall | TheUnion.com
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John Palmer: A fly on PG&E’s wall

Other Voices
John Palmer

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when PG&E came up with the plan to shut off power to keep from causing wildfires. I imagine it went something like this …

Chairman: Ladies and Gentlemen, as you know I’m Bill Johnson, the new CEO of PG&E. I’ve called this executive meeting to see if we can come up with a plan to limit our risk and liability going forward. Basically, what can we do to stop blowing up neighborhoods and burning down towns? We can’t keep going bankrupt to get out of it. So, let’s hear some ideas.

Exec #1: Well sir, its been decades since we’ve done much to upgrade our equipment. Why not invest heavily in our infrastructure and bring it up to 21st century standards.

Chairman: As you know, I just became CEO here, and when I did I got a $3 million signing bonus, there’s not a lot left in our coffers to pay for that kind of upgrade. What else?

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Exec #2: I was thinking sir, for years we’ve neglected clearing the trees and branches along our power lines. What if we increased our tree-clearing crews a hundredfold and once and for all cleared around our power lines so there’d be no chance of a line coming down due to a falling tree.

Chairman: Besides my signing bonus, I’m to receive a $2.5 million salary, plus bonuses, so again, there’s not a lot in the coffers for tree trimmers. What else?

Exec #3: What if every time it’s going to be windy, we shut the power off? That way there’d be no way we could spark a fire from a downed tree or a broken power line.

Chairman: Interesting. But wouldn’t that be a major inconvenience to customers and cost the state billions in lost revenues because businesses would have to shut down?

Exec #3: Yes, but it wouldn’t cost us anything.

Chairman: I like the way you think. Put the plan into action! Meeting adjourned.

John Palmer lives in Nevada City.


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