San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has made headlines with his ambitious, somewhat lofty plans to transition PG&E from an investor-ownership model to one that gives its customers control. But, in the meantime, both San Jose and Oakland will each be rewarded $500,000 to help compensate for funds exhausted during the planned outages, with portions of those installments going toward better preparing the cities for future shut-offs.
Liccardo and State Senator Jim Beall proclaimed that San Jose will receive a $500,000 grant from the State of California, allowing the city to pursue “microgrids” that'll exist absent of any PG&E equipment. (The announcement, too, acknowledged that Oakland would also be getting the same amount of money for recovery and future-proofing purposes.)
“The dollars that are committed by the state in this announcement and from the $75 million from the last budget cycle will be critical for the communities that are investing, as San Jose is, in microgrids that will enable us to provide more local generation and storage,” the mayor said in a statement published by KRON 4. This promised half-million-dollar endowment will help San Jose ensure that emergency services won’t suffer in the light – or, rather, lack thereof – of future PG&E blackouts.
“For the most part, this is about investments we need to make to be more resilient in the future and there are a lot of investments we need to make so the money will be very welcome,” Liccardo added.
Nevertheless, this welcomed funding is by no means an excuse for PG&E to rest on its antiquated laurels. Both Beall and Liccardo agree that the now-bankrupted utility company is still responsible for upgrading its equipment and assuring account holders that those electrified mechanisms are up to code.
“[PG&E needs to] reduce expenditures like giving high-salaried employees bonuses and focus on quickly improving and rehabilitating all of the equipment to reduce these devastating fires we’ve had here in California,” Beall said in a statement.
As reported first by the Wall Street Journal, Liccardo hopes to, sooner rather than later, mold PG&E into a “customer-owned” utility company, a stark shift from the investor-supported model it currently operates under. By evolving into a customer-held company, Liccarod believes that not only could the utility company operate more financially efficient, but wildfire safety oversights, like ones responsible for at least seventeen California wildfires, wouldn’t be ignored nor sit unseen.
In addition to San Jose and Oakland, the State of California will give Los Angeles and San Diego a half-million dollars for money spent coping with these shut-offs.
Other smaller counties influenced by the power shutdowns are expected to get $15,000, each.
Image: Flickr via Daniel Hoherd