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Economy PG&E: Troubled Power Utility Scrambles to Make Up for 3,000 Potentially Falsified Inspections

Discussion in 'The War Room' started by Arkain2K, Nov 2, 2019.

  1. tdluxon Red Belt

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    The issue is cost... it costs $2-11 million per mile to install underground lines, pg&e has over 100,000 miles of line.
     
  2. Arkain2K Si vis pacem, para bellum

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    Californians want to end PG&E’s operations as they exist now, new poll says
    But voters provided no clear support for any single path forward
    By Taryn Luna | Dec. 10, 2019

    [​IMG]

    SACRAMENTO — After years of deadly wildfires and a season of sweeping blackouts, a new poll of California voters finds most would impose major changes to the operations and control of Pacific Gas & Electric, a company beleaguered by sharp criticism and struggling to dig out of financial troubles.

    A UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll conducted for the Los Angeles Times asked likely voters to choose the best path forward for PG&E, which filed for bankruptcy this year, citing the potential for $30 billion in liabilities from wildfires sparked by its equipment in 2017 and 2018.

    Fewer than 1 in 8 likely voters surveyed want PG&E to fix its own problems and maintain its current structure once it emerges from bankruptcy next year. Voters were surveyed last month — in the middle of wildfire season — and after PG&E had begun historic blackouts, intentionally leaving millions of customers in the dark to mitigate the risk of the company’s equipment starting blazes.

    “Californians are reading reports from the PG&E chairman and CEO that we’re going to be in this boat for the next 10 years and it’s going to take massive investments to make this safer,” said Mark DiCamillo, the director of the Berkeley IGS poll. “Should we just allow PG&E to continue making the decisions about the best way out of it? I think the public in that respect is just saying no.”

    But voters provided no clear support for any single path forward, with 35% saying they would allow PG&E to remain an investor-owned utility and 37% supporting government-run models. Roughly 28% offered no opinion at all.

    About 14% of likely voters endorsed splitting PG&E’s gas and electricity divisions into two separate companies that would remain investor-owned and regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission. Selling PG&E to another utility company was supported by 9%.

    Roughly 17% of the survey’s participants said that PG&E should be converted into a state-run agency, with government officials responsible for fixing its problems in the future. One-fifth of those polled want to divide the company into smaller, non-profit city and county cooperatives.

    “This is exactly what you’d get from the Legislature — a mixed-bag of solutions,” said state Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), a PG&E critic since the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion killed eight people in his district. “Everyone wants to see something different, but when it gets down to what that different is, it’s a scary proposition because so much hinges on it. I don’t think anyone has the magic formula because frankly, we don’t know enough.”

    Under mounting political pressure, California leaders have pondered various options for PG&E’s future during the last year. Legislators passed Assembly Bill 1054 over the summer, requiring any utility that emerges from bankruptcy to settle wildfire claims and earn a safety certification in order to access a multibillion-dollar fund to pay wildfire liabilities. The legislation also gave the California Public Utilities Commission final say over the resolution of the bankruptcy case.

    But with the clock ticking for the PG&E bankruptcy to wrap up by July, the road ahead for the state’s largest utility remains unclear.

    PG&E announced a $13.5-billion settlement with wildfire victims on Friday, marking major progress toward resolving its liability for some of the worst blazes in state history, including the 2018 Camp fire, which investigators say was caused by the company’s poorly maintained equipment. The Butte County blaze killed 86 people and destroyed more than 13,900 homes.

    The company says the agreement, in addition to previous settlements of $1 billion with cities and counties and $11 billion with insurance companies, leaves PG&E poised to satisfy its requirement to settle all wildfire claims under state law and remain on track to exit bankruptcy on time.

    Gov. Gavin Newsom has until Friday to weigh in on the settlement, a key moment in the bankruptcy process.

    The governor last month convened a task force led by Cabinet Secretary Ana Matosantos to develop an alternative option to restructuring the utility that the administration could pursue if the plans devised in bankruptcy court conflict with AB 1054 or do not support the state meeting its clean energy goals.

    At the time, Newsom said the task force would explore a structure similar to that of the California Independent System Operator, the nonprofit public benefit corporation that runs much of the state’s electric grid. The governor appoints five members who serve staggered terms on the CAISO board of governors and oversee budgets, policies and grid planning.

    Another emerging model, championed by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and a coalition of more than 100 mayors and local elected officials, would turn PG&E into a customer-owned utility — a concept different from the options outlined in the poll. A customer-owned utility would operate without paying dividends to shareholders and is exempt from federal taxation, thus saving ratepayers billions of dollars over the next decade, Liccardo said.

    Liccardo said his coalition is waiting for Newsom to respond to the settlement PG&E struck with wildfire victims before formally introducing its plan and finalizing investments to fund a takeover of the utility, which he expects to cost between $50 billion and $60 billion.

    “As you can imagine, the financial institutions are not going to put themselves out there for a proposal unless there’s a political path for them to be implemented,” Liccardo said. “It’s a lot of work and some are doing the due diligence now. They are going to invest themselves if the governor is willing to look at it.”

    As the bankruptcy process plays out, lawmakers expect to take up legislation related to utility power shut-offs when they reconvene in Sacramento next month. Liccardo and others have called for the state to have more control over the decision to turn off power during extreme weather conditions, a sentiment strongly backed by voters. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed in the poll said the decision to cut power should be shared by the utility companies and state regulators. Utility companies currently have sole discretion for when to turn off the power.

    https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-10/poll-californians-pge-operations
     
  3. nostradumbass Yellow Card Yellow Card

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    Have they been specific at all about what the state would do to fix it if they took it over, and the cost of everything? Things cost what they cost so I don't see what the state could do that the company couldn't.

    It's not that easy. Those industries are very well established in those places and it's much too difficult for the entire industries to collectively pull up stakes and move. Hollywood already does make a lot of movies elsewhere to get better tax incentives etc, but it would be like demolishing disneyland and rebuilding it in Utah.

    Movie industry and tech industry aren't really industries you can just get into without going through the gatekeepers and there is already a network of financiers and distributors, studio headquarters etc. Not to mention the tech industry recruits heavily from nearby stanford. Much easier for industries that large to wiggle around and find loopholes and incentives for taxes than to move. Plus, it's a better deal to be rich surrounded by a large peasant class than to be rich around a thriving middle class.
     
  4. Amerikuracana Life allows the illusion of relativity Banned

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    Yeah that second part is mostly true, but "Utah" is an exaggeration. That place is empty. There are all kinds of not that empty places which would be better locations. We really need a competitor Hollywood someplace else. Maybe someplace 80% less flakey. Get some real looking movies and shows again.
     
  5. nostradumbass Yellow Card Yellow Card

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    It would be great but it's one of those things where it's basically a club that's too big to compete against. A handful of studios have all the advertising and financing, the award shows, press junket tours, can make or break stars, and anybody who does have the talent to do it would gladly abandon it to join the established club for the money and recognition. I could see it breaking up if movies became cheap enough to make with technology being more accessible and online distribution easier, but that would be the big studios becoming obsolete rather than having a competitor.

    Until then, there is only one man who can save the movie business from Hollywood financiers.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Arkain2K Si vis pacem, para bellum

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  7. Arkain2K Si vis pacem, para bellum

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  8. Arkain2K Si vis pacem, para bellum

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  9. Arkain2K Si vis pacem, para bellum

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  10. Arkain2K Si vis pacem, para bellum

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  11. Oliver Clothesoff Red Belt Platinum Member

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    I'm glad I got a whole house Generator. I imagine this will make their service even less reliable with more planned outages.
     
    superking and good-faith poster like this.
  12. Arkain2K Si vis pacem, para bellum

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    PG&E Ordered to Pay $3.5 Million Fine for Causing Deadly Fire that Killed 84
    By Ivan Penn | June 18, 2020

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    A California judge ordered Pacific Gas & Electric on Thursday to pay a $3.5 million fine for causing the Camp Fire, the blaze that killed scores of people and destroyed the town of Paradise in 2018.

    Judge Michael R. Deems of Butte County Superior Court read the sentence, which matched a plea agreement between the company and a local prosecutor, after hearing statements from survivors of the 84 people killed in the fire, many of whom said PG&E was getting away with a slap on the wrist. The judge seemed to echo that sentiment.

    “If these crimes were attributed to an actual human person rather than a corporation, the anticipated sentence based on the applicable statutes to which the defendant has pleaded guilty would be 90 years to be served in state prison,” Judge Deems said. “Nevertheless, the court’s sentencing options are limited. As a corporation, PG&E cannot be sentenced to prison. The only punishment that the court is authorized to impose in this situation is a fine.”

    PG&E pleaded guilty on Tuesday to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of illegally causing the fire. An estimated $30 billion in liability from that and other fires forced the company to seek bankruptcy protection in January 2019. State regulators have said that the utility repeatedly failed to maintain a transmission line that broke from a nearly 100-year-old tower, igniting the Camp Fire. The company’s failure was all the more glaring because the line cut through a forested and mountainous area, and some of the company’s towers had been knocked down by strong winds well before that blaze.

    The manslaughter case is the second time that PG&E, California’s largest utility, has been found to have committed serious crimes in recent years. PG&E was convicted of six felonies in federal court after one of its gas pipelines exploded in 2010, killing eight people in the Bay Area town of San Bruno. The company has been on probation since that conviction in 2015.

    In the Camp Fire case, the Butte County district attorney, Michael Ramsey, has said he sought the maximum sentence allowed under California law for the charges he brought. Separately, the California Public Utilities Commission has imposed an almost $2 billion penalty on the utility for its negligence in causing fires in 2017 and 2018.

    A federal judge overseeing PG&E’s conviction in the San Bruno case could impose additional penalties on the utility for violating its probation.

    Dozens of survivors gave tear-filled statements about losing relatives and friends. Some told the court that the $3.5 million fine fell far short of the punishment PG&E deserved. The company also must pay Mr. Ramsey’s office $500,000 for the costs of its investigation and prosecution.

    “The court is supposed to provide justice,” said Joseph Downer, whose brother Andrew died in the fire. “I don’t believe justice is served by a $3.5 million fine. If ever there was a corporation that deserved to go to prison, it’s PG&E.”

    Mr. Downer said he now suffers depression and wakes up in the middle of the night. “This whole event has been super tragic,” he told the court. “This is my big brother. This is the guy who taught me so much in life. PG&E took all of this from me, all of it.”

    Philip Binstock recounted the life of his father, Julian, who grew up in a family of modest means but went on to attend Harvard and become a vice president at Warner Communications. He also angrily criticized PG&E for its failings.

    “You had the capacity to know what you were doing would kill people,” Mr. Binstock said. “You knew what you were doing was wrong. And rather than reduce your bonuses, you allowed your failed equipment and your improper inspections to kill people.”

    William L. Smith, PG&E’s incoming interim chief executive, told the court that the company accepted blame for the fire and was working to improve.

    “It can never be said too many times, we accept responsibility,” Mr. Smith said. “On behalf on everyone at PG&E, I’m truly sorry for the loss of life.”

    State officials have required the company to make major changes. PG&E needed California’s support to exit bankruptcy, and Gov. Gavin Newsom demanded the utility reform its board, change its leadership structure, improve safety, compensate fire victims and exit bankruptcy by June 30.

    Although the governor has no direct authority over the bankruptcy case, PG&E had to meet his requirements in order to participate in a $20 billion fund that will help cover liability utilities could face from future fires started by their equipment. PG&E needs access to the fund to convince stock and bond investors that it would not slip into bankruptcy again for starting fires.

    U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali said in a memorandum on Wednesday that the company’s reorganization plan, which will provide $13.5 billion to wildfire victims, was feasible and the only one before the court. He has scheduled a hearing for Friday, at which he is expected to give his final approval to PG&E’s plan.

    “All of the victims, all of the over sixteen million PG&E customers in Northern California, indeed all of Northern California if not the rest of the country, know the story,” Judge Montali wrote in his memo. “Leaving tens of thousands of fire survivors, contract parties, lenders, general creditors, allegedly defrauded investors, equity owners and countless others with no other options on the horizon is not an acceptable alternative.”

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/18/business/energy-environment/pge-camp-fire-sentenced.html
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2021
    EL CORINTHIAN likes this.
  13. all caps Gold Belt

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    3.5 million for burning down a whole entire city.

     
    flashNsmash and TheTimeIsNotNow like this.
  14. superking Poet — Traveler — Soldier of Fortune

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    An entire town scorched and 84 people dead and only a $3.5 million fine?!

    Smh.

    That and/or a solar back-up is a very smart move for anyone. Kudos, brah.
     
    Oliver C. and good-faith poster like this.
  15. TheTimeIsNotNow Silver Belt

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    Only $41700 a life. Bargain.
     
    good-faith poster likes this.
  16. jk7707 Silver Belt

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    How do you plead guilty to 84 counts of manslaughter and only get a fine?
     
  17. Arkain2K Si vis pacem, para bellum

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    PG&E, Troubled California Utility, Emerges From Bankruptcy Protection

    [​IMG]

    Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s largest utility, emerged from bankruptcy on Wednesday and put $5.4 billion in cash and 22.19 percent of its stock into a trust for victims of wildfires caused by the utility’s equipment.

    The utility exits bankruptcy as a new company with a restructured board of directors and an interim chief executive officer, Bill Smith. The chief executive who led it for much of the last year, Bill Johnson, retired on Tuesday.

    PG&E sought bankruptcy protection in January 2019 after accumulating an estimated $30 billion in liability for fires started by its poorly maintained equipment. One of the blazes, the 2018 Camp Fire, killed scores of people and destroyed the town of Paradise.

    With its bankruptcy behind it, PG&E is hoping to recast its public image. It has pledged to state lawmakers and regulators that it will improve safety and compensate wildfire victims. To that end, the company paid most of the money it owes under a $13.5 billion settlement into a trust fund that will compensate the tens of thousands of people who lost homes and businesses in wildfires.

    The $13.5 billion will be evenly split in cash and company stock; PG&E will deposit the remaining cash into the fund in 2021 and 2022. A trust administrator will issue payments to victims and sell the stock over time.

    “This is an important milestone, but our work is far from over,” Mr. Smith said in a statement. “Our emergence from Chapter 11 marks just the beginning of PG&E’s next era — as a fundamentally improved company and the safe, reliable utility that our customers, communities and California deserve.”

    The conclusion of its bankruptcy also enables PG&E to join a $20 billion wildfire fund created by the California Legislature last year. The company, along with other investor-owned utilities, will be able to draw from the fund to pay for damage caused by future wildfires. Investors considered PG&E’s ability to participate in the wildfire fund critical to the company’s financial stability.

    Last month, the company pleaded guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for the deaths in the Camp Fire, the second time prosecutors have successfully brought felony charges against the company. In 2015, PG&E was convicted of six felony counts related to a gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people in the Bay Area town of San Bruno.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/01/business/energy-environment/pge-bankruptcy-ends.html
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
  18. 44nutman The Original Nut of Sherdog

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    I bought some of their stock a week ago, and am currently up a little bit. There is no way the state will allow them to go under, because nobody can replace them without service interuption, so California will bail them out. The last year they were trading in the mid 18's and before the fires were trading 70+ and closed today at 9.25/Share. They are a shitty company, but my wallet has not moral compass.
     
    ToxicShocker likes this.
  19. brackis1 Steel Belt

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    They issued a shitload of shares to pay down debt @ $9/share last month. So the per share value is pretty skewed.
     
    44nutman likes this.
  20. skysolo Gold Belt

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    A person kills 84 people then that person is dying in prison and their name is trashed.

    A corporation kills 84 people then they pays a fine and maybe an apology.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2020

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