State Senator Looking to Break Up Utilities After Deadly Fires


State Senator Jerry Hill is looking into legislation that would break up California's investor-owned utilities or make them public following reports that Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison equipment may have been connected to the Camp and Woolsey fires, according to KQED.

"I'm very concerned about what we've learned so far regarding the fires of this year," Hill told KQED.

On Thursday, PG&E told the California Public Utilities Commission that there was an outage on its 115-kilovolt Caribou-Palermo line at 6:15 a.m. Cal Fire says the Camp fire started just moments later at 6:29 a.m. 

The location of the outage identified in the report appears to be very close to the spot where firefighters first encountered the deadly blaze. 

In Southern California, Edison filed a similar report with the CPUC saying that there was a "disturbance" at one of its substations near the suspected Woolsey Fire ignition point that caused an outage at 2:22 p.m. Cal Fire says the Woolsey Fire began just two minutes after that outage. 

It is still unclear if either outage is contributed to sparking the two fires as investigators have yet to determine a cause. 

Hill points to the big issue with utilities as they have been responsible for other deaths in past fires and explosions. 

"At some point we have to say enough is enough," Hill said. "And I think we need to seriously look at whether an investor-owned utility model is good for California because the incentive is really the critical issue as I see it. Maybe when profits are the reason that you're doing your job, that creates a question especially in light of the safety aspect of it."

Hill also questioned why PG&E did not shut down power lines earlier this week like it did in several Northern California counties last month when there were similar high wind conditions.

Read the full report at KQED.


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