Western View: Will California Take Over PG&E?

Dan Energy, Western View

Street lighting and power lines in front of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) historical facade of headquarters skyscraper – San Francisco, California.
Credit: Michael Vi /

As incredible as it may sound, two Bay area politicians actually think the State of California should take over PG&E.  One is Governor Newsom himself, who thinks he should use tax dollars to buy a majority interest in the company.  The other is US Congressman Ro Khanna, who represents the people in Silicon Valley.

PG&E sign stating that the Company is conducting wildfire safety work. Sausalito, CA
Credit: Sundry Photography /

Do they really want the state to run PG&E?  Has either of them ever had to use the DMV?  A few visits there might make them reassess the State’s business abilities. And how about the pain of paying as much as a $1.50 more for a gallon of gas than folks in other states?

There’s also the matter of trusting the state to properly handle funds.  That gas tax was increased to pay for road repairs, but the fund is being raided to build high speed rail.  Can we expect PG&E’s funds to be misused as well?

Trust is the core of the issue.  We’ve been hoodwinked by the state too many times recently. These are the same folks that take our irrigation water to flush out the Bay.  For years we were told it was to save a fish.  But turns out, it’s to push sewage into the ocean so the Bay cities don’t have to modernize their sewer plants.  The stench of that deception still lingers.

Sunset in the mountains over power lines with downtown Los Angeles skyline in the background.

It’s true that PG&E is the Utility that everyone loves to hate. And I don’t appreciate having to defend them – I’d rather cuss them with everyone else.  But the truth is, they’ve been hamstrung.  They’ve been sued by environmental groups that don’t want the power company to trim trees, even in the high-fire-risk zones.  In some places they’ve been forced to reduce the distances they trim, to as little as 4 feet, by these lawsuits. As a result, we have wildfires.  And it’s not PG&E’s fault the countryside is ripe to burn – it happens every summer here.

But there’s more to it.  The company also has a big maintenance problem which has been made much harder by the politics of green energy.  The company built tens of thousands of miles of power distribution lines long before the green energy boom began – and now, they have to maintain those lines while many of those green energy providers do not pay their fair share of the cost of using them.

Yes, there are big problems with PG&E.  But there are bigger ones with the State of California.  Let’s not jump from the frying pan into the fire.

Will California Take Over PG&E?

I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View from AgNet West and Citrus Industry Magazine.  Visit us on the web at

About the Author

Len Wilcox

Len Wilcox is a retired scientist who also ran a newspaper and has written for agricultural publications since the 1980s. He was a regular contributor to California Farmer Magazine. His commentary “The Western View” is a regular feature on Farm City Newsday and AgNet West.