“I’ll take inconvenience over death.”—Michael Wara, director of Stanford University’s energy policy program, as quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle, lauding PG&E’s plan to turn off power to avert wildfire.
Fighting for PG&E control
Now that Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed legislation to combat wildfires and stabilize electric utilities, he and legislators can’t help but focus on what comes of California’s most troubled utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
Major Wall Street players led by Elliott Management, which hold PG&E bond debt, are making a play in bankruptcy court for control of PG&E. As it is, PG&E is controlled by a separate group that is heavily invested in PG&E’s stock.
Newsom, some legislators,organized labor and fire victims are seeking assurances from potential ownership groups.
Newsom on Friday was not picking sides:
“There are some very powerful interests that are looking to monetize and not necessarily look out for the best interests of the ratepayers and the state. My interests are California interests, not their interests.”
Sen. Steven Bradford, a Democrat from Gardena and a former executive of Southern California Edison, was more blunt:
“A hedge fund is onlyconcerned about making money, and I believe they’re going to cannibalize this company and sell it to the highest bidder.”
As governor, Newsom retained bankruptcy experts and assigned Ann O’Leary, his chief of staff, to prepare a detailed report, which came out in April.
Lawmakers and their top aides have been holding public hearings and private meetings on the issue all year.
CalMatters’ Julie Cart weighs in with five take-aways, including whether it’s a utilities bailout, whether it will help prevent future fires, and how all this will work. To read Cart’s analysis, please click here.
Meet Ms. Fix-it
In selecting Marybel Batjer to be president of the California Public Utilities Commission, Gov. Gavin Newsom chose someone who has shown herself to be a jack of many trades, mostly in the service of making government run better.
Batjer’s government service dates to President Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush’s administration, when she worked for Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger and Gen. Colin Powell. See this Bob Woodward piece.
She was chief of staff to Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn, a Democrat turned Republican, and was an executive for Harrah’s in Las Vegas. Her father, Cameron Batjer, was chief justice of the Nevada Supreme Court.
In California, she was part of the administrations of Govs. Pete Wilson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown.
Brown tasked her with overhauling the civil service and state hiring process. That remains a work in progress.
Newsom selected Batjer to fix the Department of Motor Vehicles, another work in progress.
As Public Utilities Commissionpresident, she will have the task of both trying to modernize an agency that was created in the Progressive Era to regulated railroads, and presiding over issues related to the future of Pacific Gas & Electric and the state’s other electric utilities.
Something I didn’t know: State Librarian Greg Lucas infoms me that Batjer is a huge admirer of the late Western painter, Maynard Dixon. On occasion, she will drop by the State Library to take in Dixon’s art. The library displayed the largest mural painted by Dixon in its main reading room.
When your home is your car
High housing costs are inspiring—and forcing—people to live in their cars, vexing cities, blowing up Instagram and driving camper conversion sales.
Tom Dalzell, IBEW Local 1245: In the fight between hedge funds for control of PG&E, there is only one viable plan for reorganization, as things stand today, and that is the one put forward by the hedge fund-bondholders. The plan articulated several weeks ago by the shareholder hedge funds has dissolved to all but nothing.
Dan Walters,CalMatters: A bill to abolish a controversial reading instruction test for teaching credential applicants died amidst a firestorm of criticism.
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