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jimmy m
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09 Oct 2019, 9:45 am

There was some interesting news out of California this morning. In my opinion it is a classic case of lawsuits run amok.

We rely on cheap electricity available around the clock. When there is a blackout for a few hours, we wait patiently for the power to come back on. We have to make do. We cannot buy food because the cash registers will not work without electricity and the stores are very dark without lighting. We cannot buy gasoline to run our cars because the gas pumps are driven by electricity. ATM machines don't work. Cell phone batteries go dead and cannot be recharged. Computers are off line. Stoplights don't work. If the outage is sustained and wide spread enough then the pumps that supply the water stop. Sewerage goes unprocessed and begins to flow into the rivers. Life grinds to a halt. And we wait and wait in the dark. We are almost completely dependent on electricity.

The largest utility in California began turning off the lights for millions of customers in the northern part of the Golden State early Wednesday, a shutoff that could last for days due to what officials are calling an unprecedented wildfire danger that could lead to "explosive" blazes.

Pacific Gas & Electric said early Wednesday it implemented the first phase of a Public Safety Power Shutoff ahead of the "widespread, severe wind event," impacting 513,000 customers in 22 counties at midnight. A second phase will occur at noon, impacting 234,000 customers in seven additional counties.

It could take as many as five days to restore power after the danger has passed because every inch of power line must be checked to make sure it isn't damaged or in danger of sparking a blaze, PG&E said.

The outages aren't limited to just fire-prone areas because the utilities must turn off entire distribution and transmission lines to much wider areas to minimize the risk of wildfires. The Marin County Sheriff's Office warned motorists on Wednesday morning that traffic lights were out at certain intersections.


Source: PG&E power shutdown begins in California amid threat of 'explosive' wildfires, affecting millions

So from my perspective this is a classic case of Lawsuits Run Amok. There were wildfires in 2017 and 2018 in Northern California. Houses and lives were destroyed. In my opinion, some people blamed the power company because it has big bucks. [It doesn't matter that they built in fire prong areas.] They win in court. On January 14, 2019, PG&E announced that it was filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in response to the financial challenges associated with the catastrophic wildfires. So now that the fire danger is high, what remains of the company is exercising "an abundance of caution" and shutting down electrical power to hundreds of thousands of people to prevent the possibility of more fires. Losing electricity for a few hours is an inconvenience. But losing electrical power for days and days and days, borders on a catastrophe.


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lostonearth35
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09 Oct 2019, 10:55 am

Just California? Amurricans sue for the most ridiculous reasons in all of the states. :roll:

Although I *wish* I could sue other people for stupid reasons (or even good ones) and then end up with more money than I will have in my whole life. Or that I was big enough of a jerk to pretend I was injured by pouring a little vegetable oil on the floor at the grocery store and then "slipping" and falling on it. The cameras in the store would very likely show it was faked, anyway.



Fnord
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09 Oct 2019, 11:06 am

In American, we at least have the freedom to sue.


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jimmy m
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09 Oct 2019, 12:00 pm

Fnord wrote:
In American, we at least have the freedom to sue.


That is true. But sometimes freedoms can be abused.
Freedoms are not absolute. For example you do not have the right to kill someone at will. Governments tend to limit your freedoms. Sometimes governments desire absolute control of individual lives, depriving its citizens of freedom. So it represents a balance between freedom and rights. Your freedom and rights vs. other's freedom and rights.

So in this case the freedom of a few people to sue creates a threat for the masses, perhaps a million people. It falls into the law of unintended consequences.


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Fnord
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09 Oct 2019, 1:58 pm

jimmy m wrote:
Fnord wrote:
In American, we at least have the freedom to sue.
That is true. But sometimes freedoms can be abused.

...

So in this case the freedom of a few people to sue creates a threat for the masses, perhaps a million people. It falls into the law of unintended consequences.
What threat? The threat of forcing PG&E into maintaining their systems better? The threat of forcing PG&E into installing better systems in the first place? The threat that PG&E may be held more accountable for its sloppy management and billing practices?

Are those the kinds of threats you are referring to?

The ability of consumers to sue suppliers is a large part of what keeps suppliers (mostly) honest. Without the threat of consumer lawsuits, suppliers would gouge consumers while providing shoddy goods and services. Suppliers simply MUST be held accountable!


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jimmy m
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10 Oct 2019, 8:46 am

PG&E is a state utility company. The state California determines its profits.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) oversees state utility companies and sets the amount of profit that each utility company can make. When this profit is separated from the amount of gas or electricity sold, it is called 'decoupling'.

PG&E is also a monopoly. The utility company covers the vast majority of Northern California, from Eureka in the north down to Bakersfield. For most people who live in that area, it's the only choice. Utilities are often monopolies in the United States because of the high cost of creating (and maintaining) the infrastructure needed to operate. Think of how prohibitively expensive it would be for a new startup company to try and build a power grid from scratch in Northern California.

Because it is a monopoly, what happens to the citizens in the State of California when the company folds because it was sued to death?


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nick007
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10 Oct 2019, 9:02 am

jimmy m wrote:
Losing electricity for a few hours is an inconvenience. But losing electrical power for days and days and days, borders on a catastrophe.
Did the people receive a bit of a warning before the shut off :?: I'm from south Louisiana which is prone to hurricanes. My parents would usually lose power for two weeks after them. It's very inconvenient but people get by. Lots of people including my parents have generators to run the freezers or backup power batteries that power the whole home. They stock up on things like gas & non-perishable groceries. I HATE being without power but If I was given a choice between potentially losing my home or being without power for two weeks, I would chose being without power. I do think PG&E should be better managed & set up thou so they wouldn't have to do the shut off in the 1st place or not shut off nearly as much but this is still much better than making the fires worse & more people losing their homes.


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10 Oct 2019, 9:07 am

jimmy m wrote:
... Because it is a monopoly, what happens to the citizens in the State of California when the company folds because it was sued to death?
The State takes over, of course!


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individuals should be judged or defined only by their actions and choices,
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jimmy m
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10 Oct 2019, 9:57 am

Fnord wrote:
jimmy m wrote:
... Because it is a monopoly, what happens to the citizens in the State of California when the company folds because it was sued to death?
The State takes over, of course!


In general, governments tend to be one of the most inefficient forms of business. Look at the post office or the department of motor vehicles as an example.


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jimmy m
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22 Oct 2019, 8:40 am

Two dozen or so wildfires in the past few years have been linked to PG&E equipment, including one last fall that killed 85 people. PG&E under state law is on the hook for tens of billions of dollars in damages and has filed for bankruptcy. For years the utility skimped on safety upgrades and repairs while pumping billions into green energy and electric-car subsidies to please its overlords in Sacramento. Credit Suisse has estimated that long-term contracts with renewable developers cost the utility $2.2 billion annually more than current market power rates.

PG&E customers pay among the highest rates in America. But the utility says inspecting all of its 100,000 or so miles of power lines and clearing dangerous trees would require rates to increase by more than 400%. California’s litigation-friendly environment has also increased insurance rates for tree trimmers and made it hard to find workers.

Meantime, opposition to logging and prescribed burns in California’s forests compounded by a seven-year drought has yielded 147 million dead trees that make for combustible fuel. Rural communities are at especially high fire risk when winds kick up as they have this week.

To avoid more damage, PG&E announced this week that it would cut power across 34 counties in Central and Northern California as long as there are sustained winds of 25 miles an hour and gusts of 45 miles an hour. After winds subside, the utility says it may take several days to inspect equipment before power returns, and there could be more blackouts this fall.

Suddenly, Californians are learning to love fossil fuels. Stores have experienced runs on oil lamps—yes, those still exist—and emergency generators fueled by gasoline, propane or diesel. Napa County wineries and even the tunnel connecting San Francisco with the East Bay are operating on generators.

Most batteries that store solar power can’t keep homes charged for more than a day during a blackout, and most electric-car owners won’t have enough juice to escape the power outage. Still, liberals in Sacramento want to abolish fossil fuels.

Wildfires last year produced more CO2 than the state’s businesses, homes and farms, offsetting state emission reductions in 2017 nine times over.


Source: Wall Street Journal


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jimmy m
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22 Oct 2019, 8:47 am

Pacific Gas & Electric may be shutting off the power for a lot of people in California again. [This time in San Jose]

The utility announced that it may need to do another "public safety" outage to prevent wildfires -- less than two weeks after it did the same thing to 2 million Californians -- much to the frustration of residents and officials. This potential new power outage could impact up to 500,000 people.

PG&E began notifying customers Monday that it could begin precautionary shutoffs to parts of 16 counties as early as Wednesday, mostly in the Sierra foothills and to the north of the San Francisco Bay Area. Any blackouts would last at least 48 hours, the utility said. The utility is concerned that winds forecast to hit 60 mph at times could throw branches and debris into power lines or topple them, sparking wildfires.

On the heels of a similar proposal in San Francisco, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said Monday that the third biggest city in the state is considering multiple options -- including buying out PG&E and turning it into a nonprofit cooperative -- to better serve the electricity needs of its constituents, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

In an op-ed in the newspaper, Liccardo wrote of the most recent PG&E "public safety" power outages, using a line from the movie "Chariots of Fire": "I've seen better organized riots."


Source: 500k PG&E customers may lose power as San Jose revolts with buyout proposal


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22 Oct 2019, 12:15 pm

Seen this thread title.. certain gov agencies there need suing to point of bankruptcy . Having been victimized by their justice system.. but utilities , maybe NOT . Stupid people will always be doing stupid things ,,,occassionally? But chances are that a great many wildfires are started by lightening
Strikes . Some by humans, doing ignorant things aswell 8O ? A Wish to sue the gawds of the religion of your choice . If things are acts of god or nature. Dictated by your gawd? Then Your choice of religion representing that gawd , should be held liable.?

Protestant and catholic churches have deep pockets . And paid out huge sums for abuse by clergy.

Guess if your involved in Government responsibilities , perhaps PG&E is your gawd or So. CALIF. Edison ..


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jimmy m
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24 Oct 2019, 8:09 am

People are beginning to take their anger for the power blackouts on PG&E electrical company employees.

One worker was also reportedly shot at during the Oct. 9 outages while traveling in a utility truck. A vehicle pulled up next to the PG&E truck and shattered the employee’s passenger side window with a bullet, SFGate reports. The driver was not injured.

In a second attack, the worker’s front passenger seat window was reportedly shot at by a projectile. The employee was not injured in the incident and the projectile was believed to be fired by a pellet gun.

PG&E President and CEO Bill Johnson called the incident a “deliberate attack” and called on communities to stop such acts of “violence,” according to SFGate. "Let me say this directly: There is no justification for this sort of violence," Johnson said during a Wednesday evening press conference. "Whenever you see any of our crews anywhere in your community, they're there to help. They're specifically to help you. "They're not anonymous strangers; they're your neighbors. They're your friends. Most of our front line employees live in the communities where they work.

Source: PG&E worker targeted in 'deliberate attack' in California

From my perspective this is more like attacking the victim. The PG&E utility workers are more like first line responders. When I lost my power because several tornadoes tore through my property downing many trees and power lines. They were the ones that restored my electrical power.


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24 Oct 2019, 8:23 am

why can they not join the rest of the western world and BURY THEIR GODDAMNED POWER LINES??! ! :x



jimmy m
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24 Oct 2019, 8:29 am

Burying power lines can be efficient in large cities and tight communities but is inefficient in rural settings.

There are several disadvantages to buying power lines:
* Installing underground lines can cost 7-10 times more than overhead lines, a cost that would likely be paid by customers in the form of higher rates.
* Buried lines must be protected by conduit, otherwise they are susceptible to shortages from groundwater infiltration.
* Buried lines can take longer to repair because the damaged area is usually more difficult to locate.
* Undergrounding can be risky due to the presence of underground obstacles or other utility lines like gas, water or telecommunication lines.
* Underground power lines would not prevent outages caused by damage to high-voltage lines or towers.

Source: PROS AND CONS OF UNDERGROUND POWER LINES


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24 Oct 2019, 8:32 am

it's not too late for the power companies to start investing in alternative power delivery systems that can sidestep these issues, such as making power plants for individual buildings and doing away with massive powerline systems. :idea: