Wilk calls for special session to investigate the public safety power shutoffs

SACRAMENTO – Senator Scott Wilk, representing the 21st Senate District, announces he is requesting the governor and legislative leaders authorize a special session of the legislature to investigate the Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) conducted by the investor owned utilities (IOUs).

“California is the fifth largest economy in the world but when the wind blows the power goes out for millions of Californians. That is a totally unacceptable scenario yet, according to the IOUs, it will be the new normal for the next decade,” said Wilk. “Last week, a teacher in my district watched her home burn to the ground. Without power her well was inoperable and there was no way to even pump water to a garden hose. How anyone could accept this as the ‘new normal’ is beyond me. I am calling for a full audit so we get to the bottom of the policies that put this in place.”

PSPS outages can eliminate the ability to pump water as well as shut off life-saving equipment like ventilators, sleep apnea and dialysis machines. Disabled individuals can also be left immobile once their battery packs run out.

Wilk is requesting a special session of the Legislature in order for the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to meet and approve an audit of the Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) guidelines and Investor Owned Utilities’ (IOUs) practices concerning the Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS).

Senator Wilk’s letter can be found here.

The investigation must determine whether these power shutoffs are being conducted in a manner where they are necessary, whether less burdensome alternatives are being ignored, and whether the IOUs are simply choosing to shut off the power to avoid any costs of maintenance or making any lasting investments in their infrastructure.

“Calls for the PUC to investigate these shutoffs is like asking the fox to audit the hen house. The investigating agency must be completely independent from undue influence of both the administration and IOUs, said Wilk. “The State Auditor has a proven track record of independence and thoroughness in her investigations, “

Earlier last week Wilk and Lackey personally rented a generator and brought it to a retired veteran in need of oxygen. The power had been off for over 24 hours, rendering his ventilator useless without a generator. Wilk and Lackey also requested the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provide personal generators and water deliveries to the rural communities affected.