James Gallagher sees worth in studying PG&E alternatives, biomass – Chico Enterprise-Record


CHICO — Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) is not opposed to looking at different strategies when it comes to the future of PG&E.

“People are upset about PG&E. Should we look at breaking up PG&E? I’m not saying do it, but we should see what it looks like.”

In Chico Wednesday, Gallagher stopped by the Enterprise-Record while he’s on Assembly interim recess.

Conversations about the future of PG&E are ongoing at the state Capitol, with some voices calling for the break up of the utility, saying it has failed in keeping the public safe.

“It’s a complex issue,” Gallagher said, adding there is plenty of evidence of “mismanagement” on the part of the utility, which has been blamed for the wildfires of 2017 and 2018 including the deadly Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise and other ridge communities, killing 85 residents.

“You can say the infrastructure was not upgraded as it should have been.”

Gallagher did say he supported the idea of an investor-owned utility because it brings private and public money, and governance to the table.

“That’s a good thing.”

But Gallagher says there are other places to lay blame as well, including California’s government and the California Public Utilities Commission.

The latter, Gallagher said, “had not forced the issues over the years” of maintaining and upgrading infrastructure, calling it “government malfeasance.”

Also at fault, he said, are the regulators governing the forests, along with the environmental community, which successfully halted forest thinning.

Previously, PG&E’s responsibility was to provide power to the public in a safe manner, but “We ask more than safe power nowadays,” pointing to the requirement for a percentage of power to be from renewable sources.

“PG&E spent a lot of money to meet state renewable standards.”

Gallagher also criticized power regulators for not giving PG&E credit for its hydroelectric power production in those sources of green power.

“It’s because of the fish” in the waterways, “but it is certainly renewable.”

All of those elements serve to make PG&E’s rates the highest in the country, Gallagher said, meaning it’s the California ratepayer who is suffering.


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