While visiting Los Angeles Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom addressed the growing number of planned blackouts in Northern California by taking personal responsibility for allowing them to happen.
“I own this,” stated Governor Newsom. “No one cares who’s to blame, they want to know what the hell we’re going to do. And you know the person that’s accountable for doing that? The person that took the oath of office nine months ago.”
“It’s on me to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Governor Newsom was also highly critical of PG&E’s role in this, a position he has held for well over a month. He specifically mentioned PG&E’s failure modernize, as well as do more to help those who are without power.
Other political leaders in the area have also been battling PG&E over the planned blackouts. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is currently leading an effort to remove PG&E as San Jose’s power supplier and have the city create their own publicly owned utility. Many other cities in the Bay Area are considering similar measures. Rural towns are also looking into investing into wind and solar power to get of of PG&E’s grid.
The Governor taking responsibility has been approved of by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike, although there has been some criticism over what, if anything, his office can do against the company to get them to stop. While it can be a political boon for Newsom, it has also been noted that, if PG&E continues the blackouts, the Governor may lose support.
PG&E has maintained that the blackouts are necessary due to the high wildfire risk. Last year PG&E’s equipment caused numerous wildfires, including one in which 85 people died.
“They don’t want that kind of liability again,” said Frank Martinez, a former city engineer who specialized in electrical grids. “The way grids are hooked up today means that you just can’t shut down a small part. It’s entire swaths or nothing. We’ve gotten better since the 2003 blackout out East, but even closing down a certain part now has wide consequences.
We’re seeing that now.”
“The problem is PG&E should have been fixing this issue years ago, but after cuts and the bankruptcy, it brought us to where we are today. It’s no wonder why Newsom and millions of others are pissed off. It feels like cleaning up after a child.”
Governor Newsom’s “buck stops here” approach will be tested this weekend and into November as wildfires continue to pop up throughout the state.
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