California currently lays claim to a record number of homeless people living in urban squalor, a string of diseases from the Dark Ages making a 21st century return, and a series of wildfires ravaging forests, businesses — and homes alike.
Now comes the news that millions of people are having to live off the power grid, after having been involuntarily unplugged, courtesy of the utility company.
Gavin Newsom is the current Democratic governor of the state, and he continues to advocate the same kinds of policies that placed California in the disastrous predicament in which it finds itself on so many fronts.
In struggling to address the problematic multi-layered situation, Newsom recently made the decision to appoint an individual to look into the idea of the state actually taking over California’s major energy company, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).
One of Newsom’s cabinet secretaries was recently given the title energy czar, ostensibly to try and deal with, as well as find solutions to, the massive utility problems the state now faces.
PG&E is California’s largest privately owned utility.
The beleaguered company sought bankruptcy protection, due to the billions of dollars in claims that have been heaped upon it for damages related to wildfires occurring in two previous fire seasons.
Fires allegedly sparked by company-owned equipment.
At a recent press conference, Newsom gave a not-so-veiled warning encompassing a government takeover of the utility company:
"PG&E may or may not be able to figure this one out," Newsom said, adding, "If they cannot, we are not going to sit around and be passive. We are gaming out a backup plan. If PG&E is unable to secure its own future. . . then the state will prepare itself as backup for a scenario where we do that job for them."
Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., in an appearance on CNBC, provided an even more explicit declaration, "It’s time for the state to take ownership of PG&E . . . "
As the devastating fires rage on and electrical power for the people gets turned off, many of the politicians appear to be practicing the art of distraction, with focus being redirected toward the power company.
PG&E has not helped with its standing in the public eye, though. The company has been trying to sell the idea that, as a supposed safeguard, it has been preempting wildfires and preventing potential tragedies from occurring by cutting electrical power to customers —before any flames actually materialize.
The problem is that folks are finding it extremely difficult to endure the power outages because, as everyone knows, our day-to-day survival in the modern world is highly dependent on the consistent flow of electricity to light our homes, run our appliances, charge our phones, digital devices and electric vehicles; power our home medical equipment, and a myriad of other essential requirements.
What the mainstream media will not cover is the other side of the utility story; that being, environmentalist groups have caused the heretofore routine maintenance of forests and fire-prone shrubbery to come to a halt.
A portion of the regulatory framework has been compiled by environmental activists and left-leaning politicians, who have implemented policies that prohibit safety buffers around electric power facilities.
This has resulted in a significantly heightened fire risk across the state.
The lack of proper forest maintenance has allowed for an overgrowth that literally becomes fuel for wildfires during the recurring dry hot period, which descends upon California each year between the autumn and winter seasons.
PG&E is a utility run, in great part, by the state. It's under the watchful eye of a stringent regulatory agency, the California Public Utilities Commission, a government bureaucracy with a whole lot of power but very few checks and balances.
Because PG&E is a regulated monopoly, the state has significant influence on how the company is managed. As politicians are prone to do, the political leaders in this deepest of blue states appear to have turned a blind eye to the deferred maintenance that the power company has piled up.
PG&E has been further boxed in by a legal edict existing in only one other state, Montana.
The premise is that of inverse condemnation for utility companies.
Under the law, liabilities are imposed on utilities whenever their equipment is involved.
And so it is that PG&E is now going into a fire season with tens of billions of dollars in potential liability hanging over its head.
Meanwhile it looks as though California’s political leaders see yet another plum for the picking. Dangling before them is one of modern life’s most basic necessities, electricity.
If they seize it, they will have gotten control over people’s lives like never before seen in this nation.
As goes California, so goes the rest of the country?
It’s long past time for folks in my state to wake up; that is, of course, if they still own a battery powered alarm clock.
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood.Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
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