On Tuesday, October 22, members of DSASF’s EcoSocialist committee gathered at the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) offices in San Francisco. Members, who were there with the Utility Justice Campaign, rallied not only to criticize PG&E’s shutoffs, but also to demand accountability from PG&E for its actions in causing last year’s deadly wildfires. At the rally, members voiced opposition for the proposed California law, AB 1054, which would authorize a $21 billion fund to shield PG&E and other major California utilities from wildfire costs. The wildfire fund would be bankrolled by a mandatory surcharge on PG&E customers’ bills. TheEcoSocialist committee and other Utility Justice Campaign members oppose the charge as a bailout plan for PG&E.
During the rally, the group also called for a democratization of energy in California, via a community takeover and control of energy resources. According to the Utility Justice Campaign, the electricity shutoffs are not an inevitable consequence of climate change. Rather, they are a consequence of a utility like PG&E being a private company that places returns on shareholder value above the needs of its public ratepayers. The utility giant has been accused of continually deprioritizing maintenance of the vegetation around its power lines, as well as failing to invest in infrastructure, in order to maximize profits.
Members of the EcoSocialist committee also attended an October 24 CPUC meeting in Redding, California. After nearly two hours of public comments, the CPUC voted to approve the rate increase and AB 1054. Unfortunately, this means there is much work to be done to stop the bailout of PG&E. For those interested in joining the EcoSocialist committee in demanding community control over our natural resources and accountability from PG&E, you can reach the EcoSocialist committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also learn more about DSASF and our many other active committees here.