As wildfires raged across the entire state of California last year, intrepid Democratic lawmakers hatched a bold plan. Let’s party in Hawaii! Genius. So a group of California Democrats took off for the pristine beaches of Hawaii with utility executives to discuss what could be done over fruity drinks while Californians lost everything and many died. Simply shameful.
As news broke over the weekend concerning the awful optics provided by over thirty Democrats who jetted off to Puerto Rico with over one-hundred lobbyists and wealthy corporate owners, this news bubbled to the top as well. Prominent Washington firms, as well as representatives from R.J. Reynolds, Facebook, Comcast, Amazon, PhRMA, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon and unions like the National Education Association, were in attendance.
But it gets worse. The CEO of PG&E, who is being held responsible in large part for the fires because of shoddy maintenance and neglect, stepped down this morning. Add to that the very credible rumor that PG&E is about to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy and you see how sordid all of this is. They’ll make that move to avoid lawsuits due to deaths and losses in the fires that literally consumed California.
A la Nancy Pelosi, who went to Hawaii to party as the partial government shutdown rages on, the junket was a leftist’s getaway. Representatives from utility companies discussed with Democratic lawmakers just how much responsibility they should bear for the wildfires. I’m sure they were offered a way out at a price. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) could be on the hook for several billions of dollars in damages for fires it caused over the past few years.
The solution they came up with was raising utility prices in California to offset costs incurred from wildfires. Individuals in that state already pay monstrous utility costs that should have been managed to update the utility grid there over a number of years. Instead, they want to charge the people more for their greed, malfeasance, and incompetence.
The trip to Hawaii was once again another annual event. This one was hosted by the nonprofit Independent Voter Project and was held in Maui in November. PG&E executives did not attend the conference because of the wildfires and legal worries, but representatives from San Diego Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison did, KABC-TV reported. This in no way makes PG&E look any better.
According to Fox News:
“Those in attendance at the Wailea conference included California Assembly members Frank Bigelow, Bill Brough, Ian Calderon, Jim Cooper, Tom Daly, Heath Flora, Jim Frazier, Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Freddie Rodriguez and Blanca Rubio. State Sens. Ben Hueso and Cathleen Galgiani also attended, nonprofit Consumer Watchdog reports.
“The lawmakers all previously voted for legislation that would help utility companies fined for wildfires and have received more than $630,000 in campaign contributions from utilities, according to Consumer Watchdog.
“We were shocked to learn that while many wildfire victims fled for their lives in Paradise and Malibu this November, utility executives and lobbyists for California’s big utilities were wining and dining 12 influential state legislators in a different paradise – Wailea, Maui,” Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court said in an open letter to California leaders.
“Dan Howle, chairman of the Independent Voter Project, told The New York Times no lobbying was permitted at the conference and attendees did not discuss specific legislation.
“What would be wrong with elected officials and businesses discussing issues?” Howle said. “If the public wants to go, the public can pay a fee.”
“Three wildfires wreaked havoc on California in November. The Camp Fire became the most destructive in state history, killing 86 people and destroying nearly 19,000 structures in Butte County. In Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, the Hill and Woolsey fires were responsible for the deaths of three people and destruction of more than 1,600 structures.
“A federal judge suggested the embattled PG&E cut power during certain wind conditions, regardless of the inconvenience to customers or loss of profit, to prevent devastation like the kind that ripped through the region last year. The company faces $15 billion in damages, cleanup costs and numerous related lawsuits for blazes in 2017 and could face billions more in damages if investigators determine its equipment resulted in the destructive Camp Fire.”
PG&E faces billions of dollars in potential liability costs stemming from wildfires. Many are thought to have been started by the company’s aging, faulty equipment. This has led state regulators, lawmakers and others to question the safety of the company’s electric distribution system.
Investigators have already found PG&E’s equipment responsible in at least 17 major wildfires in 2017. State investigators haven’t determined whether the company played a role in November’s Camp Fire, which was the deadliest in California history, but the company disclosed that some of its equipment malfunctioned in the area shortly before the fire started.
The California Public Utilities Commission has stepped up a continuing probe into the company’s safety practices and is considering whether the company should be broken up, among other things. The writing is on the wall for PG&E.
It sure is comforting to note that Democrats felt they needed a break in Hawaii with other utility companies and lobbyists to figure out this mess. They fiddled while Rome burned.
The "Wailea 12"
👉Rcvd more than $600K from the utilities in campaign contributions
👉Are on key committees deciding the fate of legislation determining who pays for #wildfires, utilities(whose equipment was at fault), ins. cos., ratepayers or taxpayers.https://t.co/AKPAxV9z2E pic.twitter.com/1chPo2I54w
— Consumer Watchdog (@ConsumerWD) January 8, 2019