PG&E’s roots in Napa and Sonoma are as old and as deep as those of the vineyards at the heart of this area’s economy and its culture. Today, more than 840 PG&E employees live and work in the region. Thirty-six were among those who lost homes in the recent fires.
As devastating as these fires were to everyone, we know that those numbers might well have been higher if not for the firefighters, police and other first responders who fought around the clock for days to save lives and property wherever possible.
PG&E works closely with Cal Fire and local first responders to prepare for emergencies. We collaborate on action plans. We drill together to practice the mechanics of a successful response. Even more fundamental though, we come to know one another.
These close ties are an indispensable advantage in an emergency, when speed and coordination are of the essence. But they also give us a window into the special brand of professionalism, courage, selflessness and humility that our partners in the first responder community bring to their work. They will almost never call themselves heroes. Yet that’s indeed who they are, as we were reminded again in recent weeks.
We thank them for their extraordinary service, without which PG&E could not have done its job of restoring gas and electricity. We also thank customers for their patience as we completed that work – the largest restoration effort by PG&E since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
Restoring utility service is a prerequisite for returning life to some sense of normalcy. Lights. A warm shower. A running refrigerator. The basics that we all depend on but often take for granted until we are without them. But we know it is only one step in what will be a long journey.
When I met with local officials at a PG&E base camp while the fires were still burning, I told them “We have been part of your community for more than 100 years. You are our friends and neighbors, and we are devastated by what you are going through. We will work shoulder to shoulder with you to restore and rebuild what’s been lost, for as long as it takes.”
This commitment is a reflection of what PG&E is, what we stand for, and who we are.
We live here. We work here. Our kids go to the same schools and play on the same sports teams. We shop in the same stores; worship in the same congregations; walk our dogs in the same parks.
Our future is intertwined with yours. We cannot thrive if you do not. That is where PG&E’s commitment comes from.
For all customers in the wildfire impacted areas, we have already placed temporary holds on billing, which stops bills during and after a disaster. Also, for customers whose properties have been red-tagged by authorities as uninhabitable, PG&E is returning deposits on accounts where applicable, and not requiring a new deposit for up to one year.
Now, we face the future together. As a start, PG&E has donated $3 million in recovery funds to local organizations. We’ll be working closely with civic leaders and community groups to find other opportunities to assist.
In the meantime, I invite you to keep an eye out for the PG&E that I know; the people I serve beside and rely on. We are your neighbors in the blue trucks. Like our partners in the first responder community we are here to help. And we’re here for you.
CEO and president