Democratic Candidate for United States Congress in California District 18 Rishi Kumar issued the following statement on recent citizen concerns regarding PG&E’s power outages across the state:
“Public Safety power shutoffs have become a PR nightmare for PG&E while creating a huge question mark and concerns for people. The blackouts have impacted lives adversely while the economic impact is staggering! Our citizens are also asking ‘What gusty wind?’ Is this an example of a monopoly and crony capitalism? We grant PG&E a monopoly status at the cost of being governed. I believe they can be governed better!”
“I am concerned with the investor-owned utilities' profit mandates, their continued under-investment in their electric grid, and their reliance on old fossil fuel plants. I support the Green New Deal and believe that to become a clean tech economy, our utility companies have to shake the shackles of shareholder pressure and the profit mission and make better environmental and people-centric choices. The answer is to go with the public utility model and municipalization. It is time for a massive public take over so that we can prioritize citizen benefit over profit.”
Rishi, as the current councilmember of Saratoga, California, has previously proposed the municipalization of San Jose Water Company, which supplies water to a millions of Silicon Valley residents and covers the cities of San Jose, Saratoga, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, and Campbell. Rishi has been pushing back on the numerous rate increase proposals of San Jose Water Company since January 2017 and has already rejected, reduced, and suspended a total of 7 water rate increases.
Rishi also emphasized PG&E’s failure to maintain their power lines, contributing to the wildfires seen across the state and resulting in the power company’s decision to institute the blackouts. “PG&E’s infrastructure has been deteriorating. The San Bruno explosion should have been a wake up call. The Paradise fire was a disaster. What is PG&E’s plan? Shifting the costs from utilities to communities in highly inequitable ways is not acceptable.They should develop a good maintenance plan by deploying some of the latest IOT monitoring systems in place. News reports of PG&E choosing to divert money from infrastructure initiatives to boost corporate profits and to pay executives even more is concerning to me and many residents.”
It remains to be seen what PG&E’s action plan is to prevent a repeat and what actions our elected leaders and CPUC will take.
Rishi supports SB350 and a possible state takeover, that was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. This protects California by giving the state the authority to hold PG&E accountable if the company fails to adhere to public safety policies, and to transform PG&E into a utility that is reliable and accountable to its customers and to all Californians.
“Should PG&E not get out of bankruptcy or fail to adhere by updated safety policies by September 30th, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) would have a court appoint a receiver to take all PG&E property and temporarily run utilities under the bill.”