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2019-10-09 15:00 by Karl Denninger
in Corruption , 698 references Ignore this thread
The PG&E Scam
[Comments enabled]

Rather than trim trees and fix aging poles and attachments -- with a full year to do it after last year's fire season -- PG&E instead has opted to turn off the power to some 900,000 homes and businesses because there is a high wind issue out in California right now, and it's "fire season" (seasonally low rainfall, and thus dry timber.)

I remind you that I live in a hurricane zone.  Our power companies are well aware that power lines are frequently taken down by these storms, but not due to the storm itself if the lines and poles are properly engineered -- rather, they get toppled by trees and other objects that get thrown into the lines.

There are a lot of lines that get taken down this way; a "bare pole" and wire is not really at much risk from even 100mph winds.  If a tree, on the other hand, fails and gets blown over onto a power line, yeah, that will take it out every time.

Nonetheless they don't proactively shut things off.

Well, in CA they are doing that.  Why?

The utility didn't keep the damn lines clear of things within the fall radius of trees -- and then they compounded the stupidity by having ridiculously dilapidated poles and attachments that would break if you looked at them wrong.

The issue is not that "high winds" will make wires touch each other, which some "news" organizations are running (a deliberate lie, whether they're being fed it by PG&E or some other idiot) -- on a properly-engineered distribution system that is not a factor.  What is a factor are things that happen to be within the fall radius of lines and other transmission equipment, dilapidated equipment that will fall over if you look at it, rights-of-way that are not cleared of highly-combustible material and non-functional (or non-existent) protection equipment that is supposed to detect system imbalances and cut power to downed segments but fails to do so rapidly if at all.

Given a year's warning they did none of the above so now as long as there are high winds "no juice for you!" since the alternative will likely be that PG&E will cause more fires, as they did last year and the year before.

But heh, it's a government monopoly!  Never mind that it's also a so-called "public company" listed on the exchange.  They got their ass sued off (and rightly so) for failing to perform reasonable maintenance in the past and thus being culpable for last year's fires.  Rather than solve the problem this was their response.

Uh huh.

It appears that not even bankruptcy, which they were forced into due to last year's fires and getting tagged for them, was enough to get these guys off their asses with a bunch of saws and other pruning tools.

BIG SHOCK EH?

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User Info The PG&E Scam in forum [Market-Ticker]
Quik49
Posts: 6211
Incept: 2007-12-11

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We see the tree pruners in our parts all the time....damn near every morning on the way in I see them at the gas station getting ready to go.... Power goes out here too long in winter and you are screwed if not ready for it.

There should be real fires there in CA in the form of pitchforks and torches.

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Long Vaseline....

Tickerguy
Posts: 159444
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@Quik49 -
Quote:
We see the tree pruners in our parts all the time....damn near every morning on the way in I see them at the gas station getting ready to go.... Power goes out here too long in winter and you are screwed if not ready for it.

They're out trimming all the time too. Then again this area is on an electric coop and as members we'd have the board's ASS if they didn't do their ****ing job. My immediate area is underground fed but the spokes coming into this area are elevated, and I see the dudes out there with the bucket trucks and saws all the time.

Amusingly enough well up north in my old stomping grounds they are pretty good with the main feeder circuits in keeping those areas clear within the fall radius so if trees come down they DO NOT take out the feeders but the branch circuits down roads -- not so much. Some of that is probably the residents bitching about their "nice tree" being pruned. Up there they usually are more-concerned with an ice storm or similar, which tends to break things DOWNWARD, not sideways.

But a few years ago they got a near-Derecho in late July and it ****ed them HARD, laying waste to power over a LARGE area with all of it due to tree fall. The lines themselves would have been just fine but when when you have a tree 10' from the line and TALLER than the wire and it gets knocked over by wind rather than branches breaking off VERTICALLY due to ice well, what do you think is going to happen if the wind is coming from the wrong direction? Exactly what did happen.

Incidentally that very storm went through a large stand of pines near a place I ski up there. It produced the EXACT same sort of tree damage that everyone was saying was indicative of a "Cat 5" hurricane here. Uh, except that wasn't a hurricane nor a tornado; no rotation anywhere in it -- they were all straight line winds. They DID get 100mph gusts, which is more than enough to snap that specific sort of pine right in half -- exactly like you see in the so-called "worst hurricane of the world" photos. I have photographic proof of it.....

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Snooze
Posts: 3088
Incept: 2007-07-09

florida
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Since Hurricane Irma hit, our power companies have been steadily replacing weakened poles over the last two years. This morning I passed the crews working on the feeder road to my subdivision performing those upgrades.

The pruning crews had already went through there this past spring to mitigate any potential tree problems before hurricane season to give the weakened poles a measure of safety before they could get replaced.

Rollformer
Posts: 594
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I, too, am turned off by my dilapidated pole. But that's what Tinder is for. :-)
Bagbalm
Posts: 5815
Incept: 2009-03-19

Just North of Detroit
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I'd have to ask if the California state government will allow them the rates to take care of their system properly? Considering all the other stupid things they do I wouldn't assume they don't keep the rates artificially low thinking they are making themselves look good to the voters against the evil capitalists.
Mannfm11
Posts: 5602
Incept: 2009-02-28

DFW, Tx
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This brings to mind what I have seen in Texas, a large section of which is covered by trees. ROW of power lines is clear cut through forest. I would venture 150 to 200 feet. That isn't so in the city, where trees grow into wires quite often. In PGE's defense, you think the tree huggers might have prohibited them from clear cutting the paths of major power lines? I'm not making excuses, but what I have seen here, as for as major lines go, there is plenty of safety. Minor lines, not the case.

I would not want to be in the energy business in CA, nor would I want to depend on delivery of sizable amounts of electricity. PGE is toast. OF course, much of the problem took care of itself last year.

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The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.---John Kenneth Galbraith
Tickerguy
Posts: 159444
Incept: 2007-06-26
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@Mannfm11 -- Oh I wouldn't bet against it, especially out there....

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Allen090
Posts: 1
Incept: 2018-12-30

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How is this company after being drained of investment value supposed to be able to afford the massive expenditures to make their system failure proof? To do the tree cutting and other changes takes lots of money. I remember reading last year that Californians would get billing hikes of 1000% to 'fix' their tree and fire problems if they tried this. The rate payers won't settle for that, and the company has no where near the money required to do it. I would not touch the stock of PG&E with a 10 foot pole.
Tinman
Posts: 533
Incept: 2008-02-16

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Here in Monkey Co. MD Pepco clear cut a boat load of trees after a summer with three week plus long outages. Lots of food was lost that year. Boy the libs bitch about the tree cutting. Solved the problem though. I don't think I've had a outage lasting more than a few minutes in five years. Don't hear much complaining now.
Xkn
Posts: 70
Incept: 2011-04-30

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PG$E along with Chevron pretty much owns California through outright bribing of politicians and recycling their people through government agencies regulating them. Hence no maintenance (=fires) in PG$E case and "reformulated" gasoline requirement in Chevron case, causing a defacto monopoly on gasoline supply (currently ~$4.25 for 87 unleaded). Just to name two. Both cause significant economic injury to residents of CA. One would think that the role of government is to protect peasantry from such predation, but nope, it is a single-party state at its best!
With the rise of gangster-state (really any socialist state), relatively new phenomenon of last few decades in the West, monopolies of any kind have become highly desirable, as state gets the cut. Higher the price of product, more is collected in taxes. Constant stream of ever-rising income for the redistributive system is of paramount importance, anti-trust concerns are only triggered and acted upon by state in matters in which state has no cut, like property insurance, for example (heh, but not medical!). So, nothing to worry here, system is working exactly as designed.
Rollformer
Posts: 594
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@Allen: When a company restructures in bankruptcy, it is granted a debtor-in-possession credit line. If the bank syndicate is not eager to lose all of its money, the company is able to use some of those proceeds to invest in itself. In this case, it is more likely deferred maintenance rather than actual capex, but it seems the banks may have been a bit short-sighted in the use of those DIP funds.

Land of fruits and nuts, to paraphrase Archie Bunker.
Click
Posts: 615
Incept: 2017-06-26

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Ayn Rand wrote about business men who could and those who couldn't run a railroad. The railroad was partly a metaphor for free-market capitalism as apposed to what we have now, viz., Counterfeit Capitalism.

Currently I'm rereading her book, "Atlas Shrugged", ten to fifteen pages at a time. Then I stop for a while and make notes on why I think she wrote what she did.

Currently the bottom line in real life right now is no different than when Ayn wrote her excellent books: PG&E is actually a sign of things to come as the final stages of collectivism is brought to bear in the American Empire.

At this point not much of anything is left of capitalism. Just look at what people think is capital (money). The ignorant masses are the only ones who really believe that ****ing **** the Federal Reserve counterfeits is real money. And, boy, oh, boy, oh boy, do those ignorant ****s have a "woke" moment coming..

When Ayn wrote Atlas Shrugged at least people still used a system of money and credit that was still tethered to gold and silver. Look at the **** the U.S. dollar is linked to now...

When the ignorant masses finally get "woked up" they're going to have to deal with a lot worse than rolling blackouts and power shutdowns.

Flappingeagle
Posts: 3289
Incept: 2011-04-14


Online
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There is not reason for a power company to not keeps its right-of-ways clear unless there is government interference or ineptness/corruption on the part of top management. I am pulling for both in this case.

Flap

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No sign that housing, equities, or farmland are in a bubble- Yellen 11/14/13
Trying to leave the Rat Race to the rats...
Emupaul
Posts: 63
Incept: 2013-04-17

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By my understanding a lot of the problem is environmentalists. Can't trim the trees because "spotted owl" or "it's ugly" or something.

I went to visit friends in Cal a few years ago. Up around Grass Valley. Nothing but trees on both sides of the highway and in the median. Looking for your exit? Good luck seeing the sign in time. It's just nuts.

The math is simple. Power line at 40 feet up, trees are 90 feet tall, clear cut back 80 feet or so on each side, at least.

You won't allow the trees to be pruned? Yet want to sue the heck out of the power company if an un-trimmed tree hits a power-line and starts a fire? Yeah, if I was running the electric company, I'd turn off the power.

Over here elec is a co-op and PEC does a fine job. Sure, some on the trees look odd after pruning but meh, it's just cedar tree.
Tsherry
Posts: 2085
Incept: 2008-12-09

Spokane WA
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We had 18-20K people without power last night and into today, due to 4" of heavy, wet snow on trees still filled with leaves...and not enough in the way of clearing trees away from lines.

If you don't want to cause an outage, or end up with a tree on your house, clear the zone at least the 'blade distance' of the tree. Anything else is a crapshoot.

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Omne mendacium est.
Bodhi
Posts: 1330
Incept: 2008-02-23

Canton, GA
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Flappingeagle wrote..
There is not reason for a power company to not keeps its right-of-ways clear unless there is government interference or ineptness/corruption on the part of top management. I am pulling for both in this case.


If this were a multiple choice test I'd choose "All of the above." Governor "executive order to steal gas tax money" Newsom is now screaming that Californians should be outraged. Yes they should, Governor. Not only about this unacceptable situation, but much more.
Tickerguy
Posts: 159444
Incept: 2007-06-26
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Eat politician.

Low carb and usually high fat.

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Mangymutt
Posts: 1186
Incept: 2015-05-03

Vancouver WA
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And full of ****.
Tickerguy
Posts: 159444
Incept: 2007-06-26
A True American Patriot!
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Ok, lots of BBQ sauce....

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Winding it down.
Stee_man
Posts: 209
Incept: 2011-12-08

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CA socialists just passed rent control. How much do you want to bet this causes land lords to become slum lords, instead of investing?

Don't allow the power company to invest in the future and cut down "beautiful" trees. Then take your blackouts, you libtards.
Click
Posts: 615
Incept: 2017-06-26

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@ Tsherry "We had 18-20K people without power last night and into today, due to 4" of heavy, wet snow on trees still filled with leaves"

I thought that Nobel Prize-winner Al Gore and the UN IPCC said that anthropogenic global-warming would render natural snow a thing of the past?

Me thinks that somebody should eat Al Gore, use the Nobel Prize as an ice-fishing weight and completely defund the UN and permanently shut off their power.

And didn't the global-warming screamers ( the people we might need to eat) claim that climate change was the reason why California had those horrible fires?

Please, please, oh great and powerful Mother Nature; I beg you to listen to my voice: please send upon Earth a Seyfert Flare. Please turn the lights out EVERYWHERE!

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20....
Quik49
Posts: 6211
Incept: 2007-12-11

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Oh I'm sure its the tree huggers....I took the CA architects licensing exam a bit a go (they have their own of course) and studying for it and taking it was more about regulation than anything else..... good ole CEQA and a plethora of other regs. They've shot themselves in the foot and can't figure out who did it.

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Long Vaseline....

Krzelune
Posts: 6865
Incept: 2007-10-08

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How is PG&E going to know if a tree hasn't pushed power lines into other trees which will cause a fire when they turn the juice back on?
Amused
Posts: 235
Incept: 2019-04-22

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I've been saying for a while now, California is going to be *****Ed with it's solar home mandate unless drastic action is taken.

We are going to require a massive public works program to build at least a dozen pumped storage plants to make it work, and the people don't realize the cost.

We could build either a couple of New Nuke Sites, though given how the Savannah site cost ballooned I'm not sure which will actually end up being more expensive in the long run.

It is going to take 30 years to get it sorted out. I have no doubt that eventually a workable distributed model can be made to work, but in the meantime, we are going to be faced with GDP losses from people that don't want to put up with it and business that can't survive.
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