[REGIONAL NEWS] Group asks California governor for public takeover of PG&E utility

A sign calling for PG&E to turn the power back on is seen on the side of the road during a statewide blackout in Calistoga, California, on October, 10, 2019.
/Photo: JOSH EDELSON, AFP via Getty Images

By Janet Wilson | Palm Springs Desert Sun 

Ask and ye shall receive. California Gov. Gavin Newsom says Pacific Gas & Electric, the nation’s largest electric utility, needs to be completely “re-imagined,” with a “total transformation of its culture and governance” and has publicly pleaded for ideas. The results are coming in.

This week, a veteran public power expert who has successfully battled PG&E asked Newsom and the state legislature to create a sprawling public power district that would encompass all of the utility’s service area and take over every transmission line, power pole and customer, as well as billions in debt.

“For decades, PG&E has placed profits for shareholders and executives over safety, resulting in … thousands of lives shattered or lost, and neighborhoods blown to pieces or burned to the ground,” wrote Jeff Shields, interim manager of Tri-County Dam project in Pincecrest, in a letter outlining the proposal by a group called a Californians for a Public Utility.

The transition of service would be seamless, Shields says, with PG&E’s current 24,000 employees and any union contracts remaining in place. But the governing structure would be radically revamped, with a publicly elected or appointed board that would have transparent operations with a sole mission to serve customers.

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