In the early days of the 2019 wildfire season last month, a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. transformer near Mount Tamalpais failed, starting a quarter-acre brush fire. Two weeks later, another brush fire that swelled to more than 2,500 acres in southern Monterey County was linked to PG&E power lines.
No homes were damaged or people harmed, unlike in the deadly wildfires of 2017 and 2018 that were blamed on PG&E. But for California’s largest utility the two small blazes represent a potentially ominous start to the fire season, as it desperately tries to prevent causing any more disasters like the ones that led it to file for bankruptcy protection in January.
“The main way that I am going to feel safer this year is not because PG&E has strung up some covered conductor or trimmed the trees back more,” said Michael Wara, the director of Stanford University’s energy policy program. “It’s because they demonstrate a willingness to turn the power off, even though it’s going to cost them politically and, potentially, financially.”
“I’ll take inconvenience over death,” he said.Read More