Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

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balzaccom
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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by balzaccom » Fri Feb 15, 2019 8:15 am

I am not sure about that. Public utilities have to justify every single expenditure, and people want to save money. Isn't the Oroville Dam and publicly maintained dam? Well, that worked out well. We have a problem in this country. We want our government to run things very inexpensively, and never make a mistake. You can't have both, whether it's with a publicly supervised private utility company, or a publicly run utility. If you want close to perfection, you are going to buy $300 hammers. If you want cost effectiveness, you are going to make some decisions to cut some corners. Which corners should we cut?


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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri Feb 15, 2019 11:23 am

Private utilities certainly DO have incentive to prevent fires. They loose a lot of money if their infrastructure burns up. The issue is not incentive but the publics ability to pay. If the true cost of maintaining utilities in tip top condition were rolled into their rates, only the very well off would be able to afford it.

As for SMUD, it is a good public utility, but has a much easier task. It is primarily an urban utility supported by other urban infrastructure and serves a small enough compact area to make things like burying power lines economically feasible. If the palm tree on the corner catches fire if the transformer blows, in less than a few minutes, municipal fire fighters are on the scene.

I think one good investment for utilities like PG&E would be more real-time monitoring. Perhaps even with drones. What about having military spy satellite capabilities to monitor fires starts? Thermal imaging is quite good. A lot can be done with remote sensing satellites. And I think this would have to be a public-private venture, involving both PG&E, the state, USFS and military. I think one thing we have learned is that getting these big fires put out early is a key.

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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by mrphil » Fri Feb 15, 2019 1:53 pm

Here at home, every year, for many years, we have PG&E flying over the transmission lines with helicopters a hundred feet off the ground. Last year, they did it three times. We also have ALWAYS had numerous arborists from tree trimming subcontractors out more times than we can count, flagging and photographing trees and branches that are problematic. One was out last week, in fact. PG&E then sends us a notice that they'll be doing work, and it's never been more than a month from identifying the problems and correcting them...always before peak fire season. You take that x 125k miles, along with the complicated nature of transmission infrastructure, as well as the MANDATED delivery of power to rural locations, and it's not negligence or putting profits ahead of public safety so much as it's just a lot of work that will take many years to complete, and over one hell of a long distance. Some things fall through the cracks and sh!t happens ...just ask government about that when it comes to just about everything they touch. And we don't even need to discuss environmental obstructionism for the sake of Nimby-ism and landowners that don't want their trees trimmed, but sure do want their reliable and uninterrupted electricity.

Daisy is absolutely right, if the real costs were passed on to customers in the form of rates, those rates would go up exponentially, and just like healthcare, taxpayers would be on the hook for massive subsidies for consumers...so there goes the taxpayer. Right now, investors take those hits in the form of lower revenues. Let the government run it, those "stakeholders" that take the hit directly become the taxpayers. Look at Oroville dam: they projected, I think it was, $600,000,000.00 to do the repairs and upgrade the spillways, and I believe it ended up running somewhere around $1.4 billion, to date. And then we've got the boondoggle gem of the bullet train. Where's that money coming from...stockholder profits in a private company? Nope. So no, I don't think that government is going to do anything any better. And then, take something like inverse condemnation, and then transfer that concept over to your little podunk Ponzi scheme of a local power company, run by connected appointees [sycophants] of clueless lower echelon bureaucrats, and you tell me they're going to end up any better off and somehow manage to shield customers and taxpayers from liability costs when it's them that are thrown into the same pot? No way! It'll be worse, and if you think that PG&E suspending its dividend and the hit to shareholders from stock losses is an ugly thing to behold, well, it's a hit to private investors in a private company, whereas the default for government funding shortfalls is always to reduce services, raise taxes, create a surcharge, or increase rates. So, do they then trim less trees and safeguard less transmission lines and make it all better, or do you pay more, and hope someone doesn't decide to divert adequate funding to a pet project like electrifying their local trolley?

PG&E went bankrupt because Atlas was forced into shrugging. People should really be happy that they just didn't stop generating power to 16 million customers in California completely. As it stands, the only reason PG&E still has the ability to keep generating and transmitting power is because the banks are willing to give them debtor in possession financing due entirely to faith in the company, and very much in spite of the fact that it's California, BUT, PG&E's bonds are junk, not because they're bankrupt, but because the lenders have no faith in the future with California's politicians that are currently showing no reasonable hope of doing anything more productive or intelligent than pandering to a mob of screaming socialist zealots that confuse the knee-jerk notion of injecting hatred and a desire to smash perceived evil monopolies with the very real need for rational discussion with the end result being a set of viable solutions to keep their lights on. The bond market funds your electricity. Never forget that. Spook the markets enough, they get scared or reluctant to provide financing (risk must equal reward), and if this litmus test isn't handled right, that money costs more (for all power providers in Ca, now and future), hence, your power costs rise too. That's some big odds in a very misguided and ill-conceived game...never the twain should meet....it's bad strategy if nothing else...playing with fire.

It really is a case of "Be careful what you wish for".

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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by rightstar76 » Wed Feb 20, 2019 4:47 am

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Last edited by rightstar76 on Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by rightstar76 » Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:09 pm

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Last edited by rightstar76 on Mon Aug 05, 2019 2:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by rlown » Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:15 pm

I'm guessing you live off the grid. If not, then quit posting like you do.

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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by rightstar76 » Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:27 pm

rlown wrote:
Wed Feb 27, 2019 6:15 pm
I'm guessing you live off the grid. If not, then quit posting like you do.
We can live on the grid without these tragedies. It doesn't have to be like this. There is an alternative.

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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by balzaccom » Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:58 am

If you have an alternative, suggest it. But if you think a publicly owned utility will solve this problem, please see: Oroville dam.
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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by dave54 » Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:35 pm

balzaccom wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:58 am
If you have an alternative, suggest it. But if you think a publicly owned utility will solve this problem, please see: Oroville dam.
or Chernobyl.

The same pressures facing private utilities face public ones. The state, in its infinite wisdom kept mandating PG&E and other utilities to increase its spending on renewables and conservation, yet regulators did not allow the utilities to raise rates enough to offset the new added expenditures. PG&E spent millions on subsidizing homeowner solar cells, energy rebates, new experimental technologies. et al per state law. With no rate increase, the funding had to come from somewhere. They diverted some of the funds set aside for maintenance to pay for the state mandates. Whether that was a wise choice or not is irrelevant. They had come up with the funding from somewhere.
The Camp Fire was an unintended consequence of California's insistence on being a 'national leader' on environmental policies.
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Re: Everyone's thoughts on what's really causing fires

Post by LMBSGV » Thu Feb 28, 2019 2:15 pm

I have a close friend who has been involved for many, many years in environmental, energy, and utilities and knows the ins and outs, advantages and disadvantages of every side of this issue. To her, the long-term solution is obvious. We need a two-tiered system of smaller utilities that provide the generation (the CCAs--Community Choice Aggregation--for example, Marin Clean Power, Sonoma Clean Power, Silicon Valley Clean Power) and a larger utility that maintains the infrastructure (PG&E or whatever entity may replace it). In other words, PG&E would essentially no longer function as a utility that both generates power and maintains the infrastructure, but would only maintain the infrastructure. Environmentally and economically, the old utility structure exemplified by PG&E is obsolete in a world that runs on renewable energy.

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