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Did forced focus on green energy lead to California’s devastating wildfires?

Did forced focus on green energy lead to California’s devastating wildfires?

As PG&E files for Chapter 11 protection, environmental activists are worried their pool of green energy money is going to dry up.

Last November, large sections of California became a hellscape as wildfires devastated areas that have suffered drought conditions, overgrown brush, and environmental restrictions that prohibited appropriate forest management plans from being implemented.

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has been the focus of lawsuits related to the Camp Fire. The complaints allege that the utility failed. to properly maintain its infrastructure and equipment.

Now, PG&E has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The San Francisco-based company listed more than $50 billion in estimated liabilities. A Chapter 11 filing allows a company to keep operating while it works out a plan to turn the business around and pay off creditors.

California’s wildfires have in the past saddled utilities with millions of dollars in damages, but never have the blazes exacted such a massive financial toll from a company—creating one of the country’s largest utility bankruptcies of all time. Since November’s Camp fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise, PG&E has seen about three-quarters of its market value wiped out, its chief executive officer leave, its bonds plunge to junk status and estimates of its fire liabilities swell to more than $30 billion.

Environmental activists are now worried that PG&E’s filing will defund green energy projects.

“It’s not just business. The state’s environmental and climate goals are at stake,” said John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, a non-profit group in Sacramento.

“How are we going to finance all of the clean energy initiatives we need?”

In stacks of court documents, PG&E asked a bankruptcy court to allow it to potentially cancel up to $42 billion in contracts that it signed over the past 15 years to buy electricity from other companies. Seventy-seven percent of those 387 contracts, or 298, commit PG&E to purchase solar, wind or other renewable energy to meet California’s environmental goals, according to its bankruptcy filing.

And many of the deals — known as “power purchase agreements” — were made when clean energy was much more expensive and locked PG&E into agreements for 15- to 20-year periods.

The deals helped finance construction of large solar and wind farms across the state.

I assert that the monies that went into those projects would have been better spent on infrastructure maintenance and fire prevention actions that would have spared Californians the horror of those historic blazes. West Virginia’s conservative pundit Don Surber makes the same point:

Instead of spending $42 billion on bogus energy production, the company should have spent a couple of billion bucks making sure its power lines are safe.

But then California would not have the forest fire to “prove” the conspiracy theory about global warming, which led to all that money blown on windmills and mirrors.

California’s bureaucratic behemoth, the Air Resource Board, implements its “cap and trade” scheme to control carbon emissions. However, the carbon emissions from the wildfires dwarfed those from standard anthropogenic sources. The 2018 fires released the rough equivalent of about 68 million tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, about the same amount of carbon emissions as are produced in a year to provide electricity to the state.

The monies for those credits and compliance requirements could have also been used to implement programs to reduce the risk of wildfires.

Companies do have limits to how much money they can spend. If firms are forced to fund competing business models and bureaucratic schemes based on questionable science, it diverts fiscal resources from programs essential to maintaining the equipment, processes, and personnel necessary to run the enterprise safely.


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notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | February 2, 2019 at 8:30 pm

CA been done wrong by Brown more than one way………….

It ain’t “Green” being brown……

    There is no excuse for not understanding the principle of controlled burns to minimise the threat of large uncontrolled fires.

    “Controlled burns have a long history in wildland management. Pre-agricultural societies used fire to regulate both plant and animal life.”

      We have them every year in my area. And yes, it’s a pain in the ass when the smoke settles in the valley and normally sunny days are hazy but it beats the heck out of an uncontrolled forest fire.

Colonel Travis | February 2, 2019 at 8:39 pm

But then California would not have the forest fire to “prove” the conspiracy theory about global warming, which led to all that money blown on windmills and mirrors.

This is another way of saying the state was willing to allow rampant, deadly fires in order to gain more political power. That is an extremely serious charge. How is this different from any past Kommie slaughter? Morally there is no difference. It’s just a matter of scale.

No one in the state will ever be held accountable, I don’t even know if anyone could be held accountable, it’s just a bureaucratic cesspool – another wonderful characteristic of this repulsive political ideology.

(D) voters are the biggest dupes who ever walked the earth.

For reasons that are still obscure, the native Americans of California , particularly inland tribes, were particularly primitive. Some reconstructive historians and archaeologist suggest that California was the heaviest populated area outside of Mexico, however there is little evidence. The tribes engaged in almost no agriculture, were hunter gatherers, and regularly burned down huge areas of the State to allow the oak to grow because oaks are tough and that would encourage oaks which equals acorns. Thus they eliminated the ground forest fuel build up and unwanted very flammable shrubs.
I am sorry, but any society that depends on acorns is at a dead end. And I believe I will stick to the lessons of my old college California history class rather than neo-theory as to the state of CA indians. However the intentional setting of forest fires is telling as to the fear these tribes had of unplanned fires.

“Green” just means it ain’t ripe yet….

Silly right-wingers.

If you think this is the fault of the sacred and holy environmentalists rather than the evil Trump and the climate change he induces, you are nothing but evil racists who want to rape the earth.

Why I bet you people deliberately crash oil tankers and create massive spills just for fun.

Does a bear shit in the woods?

Do Democrats murder gays?

Is Obama a coconut?

These lessons SHOULD have been learned after the NSW fires over a decade ago where land owners were punished for clearing dead wood from their lands, punished for felling and thinning trees on their properties to reduce fuel for fires, punished for keeping fire breaks clear of fuel for fires….the list of preventable things was as long as Obamas failings as a President.

The end result then, as it us now, was needless and completely preventable deaths and destruction of property.

And just like in NSW the lessons will fall on deaf ears and more people will die horrible deaths because Democrats don’t actually value lives because it’s all about narratives and ideology of the green gods.

I was in San Diego for the last big fire season. There was a drought, and the subject of the coming season, with its characteristic Santa Ana winds and fire threat, was the subject of many newspaper articles, along with the water shortage.

However, San Diego County engaged in two massive clean-up efforts, one for brush and one for run-off drains (yes, it rains from time to time). I watched the appearance of the city be transformed. For me, the most striking thing was the way the paper like layers of bark were stripped from the eucalyptus trees. It seems that, although this is a fire-prone, invasive, non-native species, the trees themselves had to be preserved to satisfy….somebody.

San Diego County also added to its water reserves.

This weekend, I watched a whole two inches of water rain down and run off, complete with flash flood warnings. By watched, I mean I was driving home in it, and saw what should have been a rainy day running inches deep across parking lots and road crossings.

California has plenty of money and water and sunlight. It also has a supermajority of irresponsible politicians. The only natural resource lacking in California is a viable opposition party to keep the majority honest.

    legacyrepublican in reply to Valerie. | February 3, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    It would be interesting to run a comparison of when Republicans were in charge of the state and how they dealt with wildfires versus todays supermajority Democrats.

people seem to be looking for one unifying answer; personally I think its a few root causes that created this.
one, the law requiring invest/buy (futures) in CA for renewable. company pretty much forced to buy or suddenly would be up the creek w/o funds to meet requirements.
two, the inability (due to stupid laws) to do controlled burns/right of way clearing due to environmental laws.
three, the risk assessment output showing where to divert funds relating to items one and two. although both these items driven by stupid laws.

wrong decisions (in hindsight) by company are not the same as malfeasance. and while I tend to be suspicious of companies like this until discovery is done I am hesitant to blame one way or the other.
with that being said….this is not the only time bad forest management laws have caused fires that are a lot worse than they should be in many states including CA.

BUREAUCRATIC SCHEMES – PG&E isn’t responsible for putting out the fires – the real question is, when PG&E comes out of bankruptcy, will the State of California and CalFire have ended the sole source contract for retardant – the sole source contract is not only at the Federal level (mandatory use) but also in California (mandatory use). I doubt it because in early 2018 ICL sold the Phos-Chek brand to investment bankers for about $800 million – you don’t spend that kind of money on a chemical that doesn’t put out fires, kills fish and is extremely expensive unless you have some assurances the sole source contract stays in place.

The USFS has set up a system to protect Phos-Chek and California has fully embraced this.

Phos-Chek had the foresight to hire 3 senior forest service retirees. Phos-Chek patented a gum thickened retardant. The USFS changed the specification to match the Phos-Chek patent. Retardant is extremely expensive, is responsible for fish kills and does not put out the fire. In fact, both the USFS and CalFire say that retardant works as designed – it slows fires down so firefighters on the ground can put them out. CalFire set retardant records this year and had over 14,000 firefighters on the ground – look at the result.

Dr. Shawana Legarza, Director Fire and Aviation Management at the USDA Forest advised that Phos-Chek received a sole source contract because “the toxicity of the older retardants was significantly higher than those found on the current gum thickened retardant”. Interestingly, the USFS’s NON-ACCREDITED LAB found that these other retardants passed the same lab tests as the gum thickened retardant. Dr. Legarza advised that the USDA Forest “in consultation with the USDA Office of General Council, we have confirmed that there is no legal requirement for accreditation (ISO certification) for government laboratories”. Some how significantly toxic retardants passed the USFS non-accredited lab tests and were found safe for firefighters, citizens and the environment, but once Phos-Chek patented its retardant, they were toxic.

There are other more effective, cheaper and safer chemicals available, but they can’t be considered because the USFS and the State of California protect Phos-Chek.

I would hope that Cali goes dark or gets frequent brownouts as a result of their idiotic policies– but I don’t anymore. I’ve looked at the results of California out-migration to other states and it is frightening. The idiots fleeing from Cali take the stupidness with them and spread it to the previously sanes states to which they flee. I am beginning to think about ways to quarantine the stupid to just one or two states.

We must stop the spread of toxic liberal stupidity.

John White, executive director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, a non-profit group in Sacramento.

“How are we going to finance all of the clean energy initiatives we need?”

Maybe you and aoc can add another tax on to billionaires. According to the socialist/fascists of the country all we need is take the billionaires money and life will be free.

“How are we going to finance all of the clean energy initiatives we need?”

I dunno – start knocking on doors; send out letters soliciting funds; hold presentations with potential funders – all the things that those of us who are not in the Holy Climate Alarmist groups have to do. Our funds were never handed to us gratis – why should yours be?