In the USA power cut off to customers to avoid fire risk

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In the USA power cut off to customers to avoid fire risk

Postby Squire » 09 Jun 2019, 08:44

Is this a portent for Australia next fire season? Could power distribution companies decide the risks of huge damages claims will need them to cut power to transmission lines on high fire risk days?

US company PG&E has declared bankruptcy in the face of lawsuits against it for 'Camp' fire in the USA "which killed 85 people and burned through nearly 20,000 structures last November."

https://abcnews.go.com/US/pge-shut-power-california-residents-fire-season-underway/story?id=63573625

PG&E to shut down power to some California residents as fire season gets underway
By MARK OSBORNE Jun 8, 2019, 3:27 AM ET

Pacific Gas & Electric is taking preventative measures this weekend as fire season kicks into high gear by shutting off power to several communities in California's Bay Area. The response comes as part of new guidelines instituted by the company last September during the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season on record.

PG&E power lines have been blamed for sparking many of California's worst fires in recent years, including the Camp Fire, which killed 85 people and burned through nearly 20,000 structures last November.

Some of the first red flag warnings of the season were issued on Friday due to the high fire risk south of San Jose all the way north to Redding.

PG&E said it will be shutting down power to parts of Yolo, Napa and Sonoma counties on Saturday.

"We know how much our customers rely on electric service and would only consider temporarily turning off power in the interest of safety during extreme weather conditions," Michael Lewis, PG&E’s senior vice president of Electric Operations, said in a statement Friday.

Customers are notified by automated texts, email and phone.

Though it had been suspected for months, Cal Fire officially named PG&E as being responsible for the Camp Fire last month.

"CAL FIRE has determined that the Camp Fire was caused by electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electricity (PG&E) located in the Pulga area," Cal Fire said in a statement on May 15. "The investigation identified a second ignition sight near the intersection of Concow Rd. and Rim Rd. The cause of the second fire was determined to be vegetation into electrical distribution lines owned and operated by PG&E."

The company filed for bankruptcy in January in anticipation of the money they will need to pay out as a result of a number of lawsuits. It said in a release on Jan. 29 it was "working very hard to address future wildfire risks."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom warned PG&E the state expects those impacted by the wildfires will receive fair treatment.

"Wildfire survivors, employees and customers deserve to have a seat at the table during this bankruptcy process,” Newsom said in a statement in February. "These groups don’t have the resources of many of PG&E’s Wall Street creditors, but they will be directly impacted by the bankruptcy’s results and deserve to have substantial representation in bankruptcy court."

PG&E CEO Geisha Williams resigned in January, ahead of the bankruptcy filing, over the company's handling of wildfires and was replaced by interim CEO John R. Simon.
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Re: In the USA power cut off to customers to avoid fire risk

Postby SethBullock » 09 Jun 2019, 10:59

I don't know about Yolo County, but Sonoma and Napa counties are renown for grape growing and wine making. Both are just north of San Francisco. There is a lot of money invested in those counties. A lot. I wonder if these shutoffs of power are because of a legit fire danger in those counties by their transmission wires, or if, instead, PG&E sending a message to Sacramento. That message would be, "Pass laws that protect us from this level of liability."

It presents an interesting question.

Everybody needs electrical power. We cannot have our electric companies going bankrupt.

And yet, those companies must have an incentive to do everything in their power to prevent their transmission lines from starting fires in remote, heavily wooded areas. Fires like that can spread and destroy a city, such as what happened in the Camp Fire of 2018. Paradise, CA, population 26,000, was almost completely destroyed.

Perhaps laws that permit some sort of limited liability to power companies, with fire insurance companies being the primary entity paying for fire damage.
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Re: In the USA power cut off to customers to avoid fire risk

Postby johnsmith » 09 Jun 2019, 20:07

SethBullock wrote:Everybody needs electrical power. We cannot have our electric companies going bankrupt.

And yet, those companies must have an incentive to do everything in their power to prevent their transmission lines from starting fires in remote, heavily wooded areas. Fires like that can spread and destroy a city, such as what happened in the Camp Fire of 2018. Paradise, CA, population 26,000, was almost completely destroyed.

Perhaps laws that permit some sort of limited liability to power companies, with fire insurance companies being the primary entity paying for fire damage.



Essential services like power generation, should not be run for profit. Instead they should be state run. That way people don't die because some stockholder wants higher profits.
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Re: In the USA power cut off to customers to avoid fire risk

Postby Texan » 09 Jun 2019, 23:37

johnsmith wrote:
SethBullock wrote:Everybody needs electrical power. We cannot have our electric companies going bankrupt.

And yet, those companies must have an incentive to do everything in their power to prevent their transmission lines from starting fires in remote, heavily wooded areas. Fires like that can spread and destroy a city, such as what happened in the Camp Fire of 2018. Paradise, CA, population 26,000, was almost completely destroyed.

Perhaps laws that permit some sort of limited liability to power companies, with fire insurance companies being the primary entity paying for fire damage.



Essential services like power generation, should not be run for profit. Instead they should be state run. That way people don't die because some stockholder wants higher profits.

Are you saying that the government is incapable of mismanaging the grid? The way I see it, government will be held less to accountability than the private sector. Big business would go off grid and pass the cost to the consumer and the people would be screwed by higher prices from the businesses and have nobody to sue when the next wildfire happens.

California needs to quit hugging trees in the name of environmentalism and start trimming trees near power lines. We have the same drought and heat in Texas and have far fewer deaths due to wildfires. Texas also has far less publicly owned land than California. Almost half of California is federally owned.

California can’t even make their own electricity. One third of their power comes from other states. That’s a lot of power being moved in on transmission lines and also exacerbates the problem. They are so environmentally conscious that they ignore the needs of the people.
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Re: In the USA power cut off to customers to avoid fire risk

Postby johnsmith » 10 Jun 2019, 15:58

Texan wrote:Are you saying that the government is incapable of mismanaging the grid?


of course not ... any rectification works however gets done, whatever the cost. Profit doesn't come into it.

Texan wrote:The way I see it, government will be held less to accountability than the private sector.


Noooo. That's a myth perpetrated by those with capitalist agendas (not that I am opposed to capitalism). We've had many services that used to be government owned and operated and have since been sold off to the private sector in the name of 'competition' and market forces. Always with the claim that it would reduce prices. For this, the Aussie public has received higher charges in just about every sector that was privatised and worse service. We've lived through this dozens of times over the last few decades. From our electricity and water providers, rail, telephone and internet providers, banks, health insurance, ports, post offices, airports etc etc. In EVERY SINGLE CASE, the public has come out the worse for it and serice has fallen.

While I agree some of those things should be left to the market and were rightly sold off, essential services should remain government run.
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Re: In the USA power cut off to customers to avoid fire risk

Postby Texan » 11 Jun 2019, 00:47

I’m paying $.12/kWh for my electricity from a private company. The government wouldn’t keep it so cheap.
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Re: In the USA power cut off to customers to avoid fire risk

Postby johnsmith » 11 Jun 2019, 19:09

Texan wrote:I’m paying $.12/kWh for my electricity from a private company. The government wouldn’t keep it so cheap.


why not?
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Re: In the USA power cut off to customers to avoid fire risk

Postby Sprintcyclist » 11 Jun 2019, 22:40

johnsmith wrote:
Texan wrote:Are you saying that the government is incapable of mismanaging the grid?


of course not ... any rectification works however gets done, whatever the cost. Profit doesn't come into it.

Texan wrote:The way I see it, government will be held less to accountability than the private sector.


Noooo. That's a myth perpetrated by those with capitalist agendas (not that I am opposed to capitalism). We've had many services that used to be government owned and operated and have since been sold off to the private sector in the name of 'competition' and market forces. Always with the claim that it would reduce prices. For this, the Aussie public has received higher charges in just about every sector that was privatised and worse service. We've lived through this dozens of times over the last few decades. From our electricity and water providers, rail, telephone and internet providers, banks, health insurance, ports, post offices, airports etc etc. In EVERY SINGLE CASE, the public has come out the worse for it and serice has fallen.

While I agree some of those things should be left to the market and were rightly sold off, essential services should remain government run.



I agree entirely
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