Abuse of Power

Should PG&E be owned by the people?

Once again PG&E has crossed the line and exposed its customers to an awkward and dangerous situation. If this time had been an actual emergency, the community would have worked together and weathered it with our strong Sonoma spirit. Rather, we were driven to frantic gas lines and unnecessary grocery store hysteria and economic and personal disruption.

This latest utility debacle should have been handled with a little more thought, planning and grace. Even the utility linemen who came by to inspect our electric lines prior to reconnection were perplexed and scratching their heads as to why this event was handled the way it was.

Once again, the customers of the utility have been played for fools. Yes, emergencies do happen and we need to be prepared, but this was an inexcusable display of mismanagement. Maybe the time has come to relieve PG&E of some of its power. This lack of care is what we get when the only option we have is a for-profit privately owned monopoly.

How about a publicly owned utility, led and owned by the customers. It has worked in other locations, why not here. Has the time come? Let the public speak and come up with a positive alternative to this persisting power grab. We need to develop a fair solution that spreads the responsibility and yes burdens and the gains to Californians everywhere. We need to unite to resolve this ever-troubling dilemma for our county and the State.

In the October 2019 edition of Jim Hightower’s “Lowdown” newsletter, he suggests that “CO-OP electricity has transformed rural America, but co-ops offer something even more electrifying: democratic power.” He goes on to offer that “by law, every household that uses the electricity as a member of the co-op has actual decision-making authority to control resources including cash flow, good jobs, a customer base, facilities and financial acumen. Moreover, unlike the corporate ethic of shareholder supremacy, these decentralized, grassroots utilities can be guided by an egalitarian ethic formulated in 1937, the Rochdale Principles of cooperative organization.”

PG&E doesn’t have to prove again and again that it shouldn’t be the only player in this game. Maybe it’s time to take our power back. What about the common good that has been overlooked again.

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