Millions playing waiting game over electricity shutoffs

Carlos Lama of Bayside Cafe, which was among businesses to lose power due to PG&E's public safety power shutoff, uses an LED lamp and light from his phone at the counter of the restaurant in Sausalito, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. More than a million people in California were without electricity as the state's largest utility pulled the plug to prevent a repeat of the past two years when windblown power lines sparked deadly wildfires that destroyed thousands of homes. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal via AP)

I guess it should be no surprise that the same week Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law that allows California residents to eat like a Third World country (you’re now legally allowed to eat road kill), that they should be forced to live like Third World refugees.

In October and early November, nearly 3 million residents were forced to live like refugees as their power was cut off during a forced power shutoff that could have, and should have, been prevented by the public utilities that are guaranteed a profit in exchange for maintaining their infrastructure.

While many, including Gov. Newsom, have called this the “new normal,” the truth of the matter is that the state’s power blackouts are not due to strong winds, but a lack of focus and leadership from California’s Democratic leadership.

California is certainly not the only state where winds blow. That then raises the question: Why is it that we seem to be the only state that chooses to turn off power for our residents when it gets windy?

While the power outage may have seemed sudden, the lack of leadership from Democrats over the last several decades resulted in what we are now seeing as the “new normal.”

Democrats have a two-thirds majority in the Legislature. They occupy every statewide office. And it has been under their watch and so-called “leadership” that millions of people across the state are having their power cut off every few weeks for days at a time.

Californians used to take pride in being different. We were better. We were the “Golden State.” But while we’re still different, we’re certainly not “golden.”

We have the world’s 5th largest economy in the world, yet 2 million people are sitting in the dark with schools closed and businesses shut down for days, if not weeks, at a time.

We have an economy that generates over $3 trillion a year, more than 6 times the size of Venezuela’s economy, and our government can’t figure out how to keep the lights on so people can read to their kids at night and take hot showers in the morning.

Instead of celebrating do-nothing, virtue-signaling legislation, like allowing residents to eat road kill, Democrats need a plan to eliminate future blackouts. The governor and Legislature must make this an absolute priority.

Gov. Newsom should call the Legislature back into special session to create a plan to eliminate future power blackouts and plan to deal with the growing wildfire crisis that has destroyed tens of thousands of lives and killed nearly 100 of our residents over the last two years.

Think about it: thanks to the liberal policies embraced by the governor and the Democratic majority, California has gasoline that is averaging $4.20 a gallon compared to the national average of $2.65, 2 million people had their power cut for days, and we are just one dry winter away from suffering through another man-made drought.

California is at a crossroads and the people have a serious choice to make.

We can either continue down the road that destroyed the Venezuelan economy by embracing policies of total government control benefiting the political elite living behind their gates with private generator running day and night to make sure their lights stay on.

Or we can start passing common sense laws that lets people keep more of what they earn and begin addressing real problems like the homeless crisis that is just as man-made as the blackouts created by failed Democratic leadership.

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Sen. Jeff Stone is a Republican who represents Senate District 28 in Riverside County. He wrote this commentary for CalMatters, a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s Capitol works and why it matters.