Privatized energy utilities are burning down their states, but antitrust can make them stop

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/17/spark-arrestors.html

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And PG&E senior management is fleeing like rats off a sinking ship, but with golden parachutes life preservers.

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There’s a lot of history here. Amidst the manufactured energy crisis that almost bankrupted California itself, PG&E declared bankruptcy in 2001 in the middle of negotiations for lower rates with Governor Davis. The 2003 court decision in that case is a TLDR for me, but PG&E (which refiled/amended their Articles of Incorporation in 2004) may have felt pinched between several major interests: keeping rates low (which may have been required by the settlement order), paying off debt as per schedule of the settlement, the maintenance they should have been doing described above, and of course staying afloat on the stock market.

The state should have seized PG&E back then (and there were loud cries to do so). By comparison the City of Los Angeles’ Dept of Water and Power is taxpayer owned and, though the mayor and city council cry about not having full control over the DWP’s slush fund (I mean, it’s definitely a slush fund - but DWP continues to buy their way out of more politicized oversight), that agency also had its act together enough to avoid rolling blackouts while the rest of the state was in crisis.

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And yet I keep hearing that the future of utilities is merging into large companies.
From: http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2018/dec/05/washington-regulators-turn-down-avista-sale/

Consolidation of utility companies is probably inevitable, and Avista is a good company with a strong balance sheet, he said.

Why? We dodged that bullet, thanks to some bumblefucking, but the question of why it needs to be bigger was never even asked.
That’s just one sample, a version of that sentence was included in nearly every article during the sale reporting.

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