Maggie Angst, Bay Area News Group
One week after California’s biggest utility cut power to hundreds of thousands of residents, Mayor Sam Liccardo says he wants to explore a San Jose without Pacific Gas and Electric.
Last week’s blackout aimed at reducing the risk of wildfires in Northern California not only caused a frenzy for more than 60,000 San Jose residents, commuters and business owners who lost power, it also exposed the downside of depending on what they see as PG&E’s unreliable, outdated grids and the utility’s questionable decisions about when and where to turn off the power.
Confronted with that stark reality, Liccardo drafted a memo that will go before San Jose’s rules committee next week asking staff to investigate creating a city-owned utility to develop independent power systems such as microgrids, as well as other less draconian short and long-term measures that would protect the city from future shutdowns.
“PG&E faces financial and repetitional liability for wildfires, but very uncertain liability, if any, for lost lives and livelihoods resulting from lengthy blackouts,” the memo states. “PG&E’s ostensible exposure to only one side of the risk equation puts the well-being and safety of millions of Californians on the other side.