Editorial: PG&E Lacks Credibility to Make Wildfire Demands

July 28, 2018

Mercury News Editorial Board

Wildfires aren’t the only “new normal” in California.

PG&E is at it again, doing everything possible to shirk responsibility for its role in future disasters. CEO Geisha Williams on Thursday had the audacity to say that Gov. Jerry Brown’s new plan to deal with the wildfire liability issue isn’t good enough.

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She’s right that the proposal issued by the governor on Wednesday needs work — but only because it threatens to let PG&E off the hook for the utility’s shortcomings at the expense of California ratepayers and property owners. The Legislature should be cautious about rushing to make reforms on an extremely complex issue before its session ends at the end of August, especially because the current liability laws largely are working.

As for Williams, she should be more worried about getting her own house in order, starting by taking a hard look in the mirror. PG&E has a well-deserved reputation as the least-trusted utility in California, if not the nation. It is a convicted felon for its negligence in the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline disaster. CalFire already has blamed PG&E for 12 of the catastrophic Wine Country fires in October and has raised the possibility of criminal prosecution in connection with the blazes. PG&E’s demands deserve the same sort of respect the Legislature would give a convicted burglar arguing theft laws are too harsh.