Are utilities toast like Bankrupt PG&E

Are utilities toast like Bankrupt PG&E | 13 maart 2019

This local news should be more appropriately be posted on the Tesla Northern California Club not posted on Tesla General.

Mike83 | 13 maart 2019

As Climate Change sparks more damages perhaps the Utility has a good case that fossil fuel burning is the real culprit.
The deniers like the tobacco companies try to divert their responsibility from fossil fuel burning to other causes.
BTW this is about all Utilities as the grid changes to micro grids and such. It belongs here.

Earl and Nagin ... | 13 maart 2019

I would submit a contrary opinion that while local news, the question of the viability of electric utilities is viable nationwide. I know some very wise utility companies are carefully studying this issue throughout the USA.
With the growth of so much "behind the meter' generation and storage caused by PV and Powerwalls, coupled with a potential doubling of the consumption of residential electricity consumption due to EVs and movement toward efficient heat-pump based appliances, there are disruptive changes coming to the electric utility industry as well as the natural gas industry.
The shift toward self-generation will potentially place a huge stress on existing utility business models and processes. The increase in demand leaves the possibility for aggressive 3rd parties to thrive if they have more suitable business models and processes.
This threat to incumbents with a growing market that new competition can exploit could kill the old timers if they don't adapt quickly.
Speaking of aggressive new competition: Is there really anyone out there that is aggressively pushing "behind the meter" solar and storage as well as products that demand a lot of electricity? :-)
Go Tesla!

rxlawdude | 13 maart 2019

The disruptive changes that So Cal Edison is making include new, higher rates and gerrymandered "peak" TOU times.

Earl and Nagin ... | 13 maart 2019

Many municipalities are moving away from So Cal Edison in favor of the Clean Power Alliance for their electricity, leaving SCE as just the delivery 'truck'.
Potentially quite disruptive.
Powerwall beats gerrymandered "peak" TOU although I'm not sure the "peak" rates are really incorrectly timed, given "The Duck Curve" with solar production -vs- grid demand.

Mike83 | 14 maart 2019

The Kochs support many roadblocks like ALEC in various local regions to keep their pipeline of fossil fuel burning and adding to their $100 billion wealth. These guys are in their 90's so I wonder who is really behind their war against progress. It would be a miracle if these people would have a change of heart before they die.

Mike83 | 15 maart 2019

The lobbyists and politicians for fossil fuel interests.

blue adept | 16 maart 2019

PG&E has already filed bankruptcy and now SoCal Edison is disseminating disingenuous commentary through various media channels in the form of reports about how they were already financially stressed because of previous payouts due to faulty/poorly maintained equipment-caused fires as a means of prepping for the inevitable following the release of a report by the Ventura County Fire Department:

Coverage form a local outlet:

Where their (SoCal Edison) equipment was determined to be the cause of the Thomas/Camp fire!

Perhaps the most annoying aspect of all of these man-made fires and the resultant loss of life and property is that they were avoidable/easily could've been prevented if only the respective utility companies (PG&E and SoCal Edison) had only performed routine maintenance and keep their infrastructure in proper operating condition.

Sad for people to have had to lose their lives over laziness or greed.

blue adept | 16 maart 2019

Especially at the hands of those who we look/trust to be responsible for safely providing our energy needs.

Mike83 | 18 maart 2019

Public Utilities ???? It seems they are controlled by Koch funded ALEC and other groups to keep building fossil fuel power plants. Also look at the enormous costs of decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants and passing the costs on to the common rate payers. The Trump/GOP wants to gut all regulations so these fossil fuel monopolies can make more money, create more Global Warming, pollute our water and scenery, destroy wild places and hide facts from the American people at the same time rewarding them with tax breaks and incentives to keep drilling.

They also suck money from California to fund their giveaways to the fossil fuel welfare recipients while claiming they are providing Jobs mine coal; there must be at least 100 jobs saved?
California has been saving America from economic crisis as it is the 5th biggest world economy. The less money they make the less America makes which could rock the US into another Republican made depression.

reed_lewis | 18 maart 2019

I love my local Municipal light and power company, The rates are cheaper than the surrounding public companies, and the service is better. What's not to like!

JustSaying | 19 maart 2019

@reed_lewis, Anaheim?

Yodrak. | 19 maart 2019

"Public Utilities ???? It seems they are controlled by Koch funded ALEC and other groups to keep building fossil fuel power plants."

Many public utilities no longer build or own power plants these days. Most have sold off their generation assets and have become transmission and distribution businesses, some just distribution businesses.

Mike83 | 6 januari 2020

I am impressed with this article that begins with the Fukushima nightmare nuclear disaster, Climate Crisis and wildfires and the demise of a Public(so called) utilitiy; all leading to the building of a microgrid utilizing Tesla Powerpacks.
This chain of events bodes well for a fossil free future. Way to go Blue Lake Rancheria Native American tribe, Nice to see intelligence that can do math these days.

Tesla-David | 6 januari 2020

Thanks @Mike83, excellent link and very positive story. Nice to see the Blue Lake Rancheria Native American Tribe's microgrid example of the future. Jack Rickard did a utube recently on the antiquated PG&E grid, and is of the opinion that it will take centuries to replace at the current upgrade rate. He is of the opinion that microgrids are the logical answer and Tesla is leading the way with their powerpacks, Powerwalls, coupled with solar. I know I sleep better at night knowing that if we have a power outage we will keep the lights on with our solar + PW2's. If I can find the Rickard utube link on that discussion, I will link it.

BadgerErickson | 6 januari 2020

What an excellent story Mike83.

It's coming, utilities are kicking and screaming along......

blue adept | 24 januari 2020

Personally, given the well documented record of malfeasance and neglect, I think the state should take over PG&E and perhaps even SoCal Edison because it is explicitly clear that those privately owned utility companies are only interested in their quarter-to-quarter profit margins.

Yodrak. | 25 januari 2020

"the state should take over PG&E and perhaps even SoCal Edison because it is explicitly clear that those privately owned utility companies are only interested in their quarter-to-quarter profit margins."

Keep in mind that the profit margins of investor-owned utilities are set by ... the state.

Earl and Nagin ... | 25 januari 2020

Yes, since the state runs everything so well. /Sarcasm
Perhaps you weren't aware of how LADWP (the largest public utility in CA) attempted to block rooftop solar within the city of LA. This, of course, was because the Electrician's Union retirement fund was tied up in LADWP so they told the firefighter union the rooftop solar would kill them if they tried to fight a fire on such a roof.
It took quite a bit of work on behalf of some solar activists to get the ruling changed. LADWP still has some of the highest coal content within CA.
There are selfish interests involved whenever there is money. There is no easy solution. | 25 januari 2020

Yep, I'm not excited about PG&E takeover by the state. We'd likely get unlimited price increases to fund any crazy scheme that seems politically good but is far from profitable. I also doubt the service would improve and could get far worse. Governments rarely run industry very well - usually requiring huge taxes to keep the inefficiencies going.

I'm not saying PG&E has done a great job, but I also see all the regulatory mess they go through. Must fund this, but are not allowed to raise prices to pay for new forced items, so spending on maintenance must be reduced. Climate change is also a significant factor in much of what's going on. Clearly PG&E a do a better job, but making a state-run company would be a really bad idea.

blue adept | 26 januari 2020

@Yodrak. @Earl and Nagin ...(apologies, can't remember whether you're the 'Earl' or the 'Nagin')

You've good and valid points one and all and I find myself forced to concede that more thought need be given to a solution.

State takeover might well prove to be as redundant as it might be self-serving, but I understand that enforcement in some manner needs to come from somewhere and be in some form that doesn't allow the energy company to recoup their ANY of their losses due to the imposed fines resulting from their neglect:

I mean, it's great that they are being required to pay the victims:

But arranging for compensation on the back end for debts they incurred as the result of their malfeasance is arbitrary and heinous IMHO.

blue adept | 26 januari 2020

Edit: ...and defeats the purpose of fining them in the first place.

blue adept | 26 januari 2020

Damn weasels!

Yodrak. | 26 januari 2020

No question that there's a difficult balance to be dealt with when it comes to providers of electricity, be they investor owned or government owned. Electricity is an essential commodity. The provider needs to be both held accountable for running the business in a safe an reliable manner and have sufficient financing to run the business that way. Can't have one without the other. In the end the costs, whatever they are, are born by the rate payer. | 27 januari 2020

There are so many issues that make this so much more complex. Let's say the state owns PG&E There is no way PG&E or the state can fix every power line in months or even years. The costs and complexities are extreme.

So another major fire occurs - and there will be more fires. Is the state on the hook for all expenses that occur? Does that mean my taxes will double to cover people in fire-prone areas?

Should the state ban all housing and businesses in fire-prone areas? Will the insurance companies leave the state? Should the state go super environmental and immediately ban all oil and gas use?

There are many issues wrapped up with PG&E and I don't have the answers. But there could be a lot of unintended consequences for a state-run PG&E.

blue adept | 29 januari 2020

"PG&E says the bonds would be paid off with shareholder profits and would not raise customers’ rates."

They've net income totaling in the billions not every year, but every month!:

They don't need any handouts, what they need is to accept the responsibility for their neglect in properly monitoring and maintaining their infrastructure which resulted in the loss of property and, especially, lives.

If they are allowed to get this amendment through it wold enable them to, essentially, excuse the debt for the compensation owed to the victims of the fires and undermine/circumvent our long established system of checks and balances, the integrity of the law and our judicial system.

We're meant to move/work towards the betterment of our society, not the lessening of it by allowing those who've wronged us to escape punishment, let alone be compensated for it.

People lost their lives because a handful of others, what? Wanted to pad their books to show a profit for a quarter by not outlaying any expenses for necessary repairs, maintenance, or routine upkeep?!

The financial obligation for the reparations of victims damages and loss of life rests squarely on the shoulders of the PG&E owners and operators and should be the sole responsibility of the owners and operators of the PG&E facilities and not made to be borne by or passed off to the customers, shareholders, the state and especially not the victims as none of them had a hand or took part of the decision making process that resulted in the deterioration of the energy infrastructure controlled by PG&E.

If I were on their "board" I would motion for the entire upper management and supervisor hierarchy of PG&E being fired and replaced as a necessary measure to ensure that this level of oversight and mismanagement doesn't occur again and jeopardize the lives and livelihood of of PG&E's customer and source of income base and, were I a family member of one of those lost in the fires, I would sue those people, individually, for the loss of my family's lives.

Also, if state regulators or government administrators allow the passage of PG&E's amendment then they, too, should also be held accountable/fired/sued for enabling such arbitrary circumvention of the law.

blue adept | 29 januari 2020

I find myself in agreement with your assessment of the situation and conclude that the best case scenario is one in which PG&E were placed under new ownership, albeit not that of the state.

Mike83 | 1 februari 2020

One thing is certain, Utilities will up the rates. Many people are already going off grid. I called to get a Powerwall(s) and they are booked for 6 months. These are Certified installers.
Small communities might consider setting up a mini grid with Solar/Powerpaks. After CapX free community electricity.
Cost of Distribution for power lines is outrageous.

blue adept | 1 februari 2020

Rate increases to compensate for expenditures necessary to update or maintain damaged or dilapidated infrastructure resulting from the oversight or neglect of the utilities' management are arbitrary in nature and can be pursued as such and enjoined from being enacted with provisions for those responsible to be made responsible for paying for the improvements/refurbishments 'out of pocket', out of THEIR pockets that is.

If they raise rates they need only be sued and made to pay for them themselves, afterall, their negligence is well documented.

Tesla2018 | 9 februari 2020

Florida Power and Light recently lowered their rates. They are saving money by it using solar and wind. It's now under 9 cents a KWH if you use under 1000 KWH a month and about 11 cents for anything over that.

They also have time of day rates but it looks like you only save if you use a lot more than 1000 KWH per month at night.

Anybody here on their time of day plan and if so what is your bill and monthly useage? I don't want to do laundry at 3am while talking to Jake at State Farm in order save a few dollars!

Yodrak. | 9 februari 2020

"One thing is certain, Utilities will up the rates."

Only if, and to the extent that, the state regulatory authority allows.

Earl and Nagin ... | 9 februari 2020

"Utilities will up the rates."
Unless they get extremely totalitarian and pass onerous laws preventing it, utilities really can't raise the price of electricity above the cost of enough solar and Powerwalls to consume nothing.

andy.connor.e | 10 februari 2020

Utilities are welcome to increase their rates. Then everyone will see how economical solar is, and then the utility companies can get zero dollars. Fine by me. I dont have to worry about an outage anymore, and that annoying wire hanging over my property can be taken down.

DonS | 10 februari 2020

I can't say PG&E has been great, but a state takeover would be worse. Government is never efficient and the state of California already has out of control spending.

Perhaps the solution is to clear cut a wide swath next to all power lines. Too bad when the lots of people complain about all the missing trees.

andy.connor.e | 10 februari 2020

Its like starlink. Starlink alleviates needing thousands of miles of cables for connectivity to each household. Solar on roofs with batteries will alleviate thousands of miles of transmission lines. Out with the old, in with the new.

Earl and Nagin ... | 10 februari 2020

Clearly, from your comment above and your comments in the AM Radio discussion, you don't have a good grasp of the concepts and technical details of the difference and relationship between coverage and bandwidth. This applies similarly to communications bandwidth and electric power capacity.
I do agree that solar on roofs can potentially alleviate some transmission lines but only if everyone in the same area goes off grid with solar + powerwall. If many people remain on-grid, you'll only alleviate the need to add new transmission lines to handle capacity increases, existing ones will still be required.

andy.connor.e | 10 februari 2020

You'll probably keep regional power lines to establish the micro grid. But you wont need giant substations and HV lines spanning hundreds of miles which flatten a large area of trees to accommodate.

The AM radio discussion i basically said that if you knew it doesnt have it before you bought, knew when you bought, knew when you took delivery, and still does not today, then why are you still complaining?

blue adept | 10 februari 2020


The issue isn't one of enough 'clearance' from surrounding foliage rather one of greed as the utility companies (PG&E and Southern California Edison, the other two currently aren't under scrutiny) chose to pocket typical routine maintenance and mandated infrastructure upkeep costs to manufacture the perception of increased profit margins to pad shareholder dividends instead of applying those monies to maintaining the integrity of their system's facilities which resulted in the loss of people's lives and property.

If anything 'clear cutting' whole swaths of flora and forestry to allow for increased stretching or swing of power cables would, by all indications, only serve to increase the amount of negligence as it would enable the power companies to neglect needed repairs just that much longer and result in increasing the extent of catastrophic collapse.

You don't give them a pass by creating an exception or allowance for increased neglect, instead, you institute fines, penalties and policy to force them to curtail their dereliction of duty, or you remove them from the position of authority they held that enabled them to circumvent repairs.

Earl and Nagin ... | 10 februari 2020

While PV + battery will work well in the Southwest of the US, it won't help the rest of the country where locally generated renewables aren't a great option The northeast of the US will require connectivity to solar in the southwest, wind in the midwest, and possibly offshore wind in the Atlantic Ocean since their climate is not very conducive to rooftop solar. Additionally, a strong, renewable power grid will benefit greatly from a lot of HV lines to even out the intermittent nature of most renewables. In fact, an EPRI study showed that with a proper mix of HVDC (High Voltage DC) batteries really aren't necessary since, as the sunlight fades in the southwest, the nighttime prairie winds are picking up while offshore wind and hydro maintain a fairly stable source.
As far as AM radio goes, those of us who would like it don't complain about not having it as much as we shoot down twits who don't know what it is yet seem to think its obsolete or uncool. If you don't use it, you're welcome to share that you don't use it or miss it but that doesn't mean it is stupid, bad, out-dated, not good for some things that nobody ever said it was good for. I won't say what others do is stupid if it doesn't adversely affect me. Why do some folks seem to think they should naively badmouth what I do?

blue adept | 10 februari 2020

@andy.connor.e, @DonS, @Earl and Nagin ... (can't remember which one you said you actually were), and anyone else of an interest

Perhaps what is needed is an entirely different distribution method, one that doesn't employ the use of power lines (high powered or otherwise) strewn between transmission towers laced together across the landscape in a grid-like pattern?

Perhaps what we need is a ground-based distribution method instead? Would be a helluva lot cheaper to install and markedly inexpensive to maintain as well, not to mention increased dependability given the elimination of obstacles and impediments.

Just a thought.

andy.connor.e | 11 februari 2020


I dont think that AM is stupid. I think its stupid for people to comment about how it doesnt have it. Like we know, just like we know how Model 3 doesnt have a powered liftgate trunk, or blind spot indicators on mirrors. We know. So if you know, it'd be in those people's best interest to accept it.

@blue @Earl

Im not really sure what the next solution is for power transmission. Really what we need is a way to avoid stretching thousands of miles of wires when a system needs to be upgraded, like internet cables. What starlink is going to provide i think is a good foundation to think on, where you wont need all these repeater stations and underground wires. Currently our electrical infrastructure is pretty well setup to accept a new neighborhood, but i think when it comes to residential, and note that key word there, Residential, it makes alot more sense to have homes be powered from their solar roofs. The roofs can more than accommodate the electricity demand of that home, so if you kept regional powerlines, and hopefully we would start to bury them, then all the residential homes can act as a micro-grid for that region with all the powerwalls as uninterruptible power supplies for the whole grid. Its also practical that in the microgrid, there is a central location for a mega pack or something of the nature, so that each individual house doesnt need a powerwall. Whichever is more economical.

Earl and Nagin ... | 11 februari 2020

While I'm always open to new ideas, I'm generally skeptical initially, until I've done sufficient research to explore the issues and corners. I suspect that underground, long-distance power distribution is going to be more of A Boring Company effort than anything or else you're going to have a lot of losses. High-strung power lines offer a lot of cheap insulation (air), even at extremely high voltages. Digging a lot of huge tunnels around the country, with diameters comparable to the lengths of the insulators on high-tension power lines is going to be extremely expensive. Providing sufficient solid insulation will keep the oil industry happy for awhile but also sounds expensive.
Moving outside the box: Can we economically make solid insulation from all of our waste plastic that would solve 2 problems? Perhaps solutions exist. I just haven't seen them yet.
Remember that we can thank the Southern Pacific Railroad INTernational (aka SPRINT) for the real internet as they (and other railroads, took advantage of their web of real-estate to bury fiber optic cable to actually provide the real transport for our huge amounts of data to move around. It was more of a real-estate challenge than a software, semi-conductor, research, or Al Gore play as most Si Valley geeks believe.
Remember that providing enough electricity to meet your needs is one thing. Meeting it when you want it is another. You need to be able tolerate long periods of cloudy skies with low production. Most people I know take the power grid for granted (as they do nearly everything else they consume). The grid must have electrons for everyone whenever they flip a switch. They're starting to charge demand fees for this privilege, however, 'rolling reserves' of excess need to be ready in case of need. With a lot of us having grid-tied, rooftop solar, we put even more stress on them since a storm rolling over a dense metropolitan area with a lot of solar can suddenly create a huge demand. Pure solar is subject to long period of overcast skies such as are common in many places for most of the winter months.
A general rule of thumb for off-grid PV is that, in order to handle the level of service we're used to from the power grid:
One needs enough PV to provide twice as much electricity annually as you need with enough backup batteries to cover 3 to 4 days of usage. Otherwise, you're going to run short at times. For most, that will double your PV array cost and triple or quadruple your battery backup cost.
Please don't misread my skepticism here though. Now that we seem to have won the long-fought battle to get EVs to a practical level (thanks for the HUGE help Tesla!!!), I'm beginning to focus my personal attention to figuring out how to get our energy from renewables. There are a lot of roofs just getting hot from the sun and there are a lot of windy prairies out there that are just letting the wind blow over. The trick is to find ways to harness and use all of it economically, socially, and politically.

andy.connor.e | 11 februari 2020


You're good man no worries. I've been thinking for over a year about how to get rid of my gas furnace. Geothermal system is astronomically expensive and doesnt make sense unless money is literally not an issue. I've seen some heat pump systems but they have limitations on ambient temperatures. I use my basement as a rental and i cannot afford to have the coldest days of the year not produce good heat, and an electric furnace is a ridiculous amount of electricity. Solar will be good enough for peoples needs as far as the limitations of their homes. When you factor in people owning pools, running excessive A/C, high powered appliances and two electric cars, i think solar has long exceeded its ability to cover that. I also think things are just extremely inefficient today as well. I think about energy usage by comparing phones and computers. My phone is more powerful than the computer i built 8 years ago, other than its graphics processor. My phone runs on an ~14Wh battery that lasts 4-6 days on a charge. Imagine if peoples computers were just your phone that you just drop it on a mount and displays your desktop and connects your keyboard & mouse? My computer draws over 200W while playing a game and my phone would probably draw 5W. | 11 februari 2020

@andy - Doubtful it makes economic sense, but if you have a large solar array, you could switch from gas to a heat pump. It's about 2-3 times as efficient as radiant heating. If the gas furnace is old (i.e. not efficient), it might be worth checking as an option. I've not done the calculations myself, but new gas furnaces are not cheap either.

andy.connor.e | 11 februari 2020

My furnace was brand new last year. So im not desperate, but would like to not have gas in my house at all.

blue adept | 12 februari 2020


If it's 'heat' that you're worried about, how about installing one of those roof-mounted solar water heaters that you could configure as a radiant heating system to provide the heat for your home and water?

andy.connor.e | 13 februari 2020

I actually looked into that last year. It seems theres an issue with the system running in cold climates as the water can freeze. You can use glycol, but there were also lots of concerns with mineral buildup in the system unless the fluid to the roof is separated from the fluid to the hot water tank, and then that would require a heat transfer system. But the main reason i never pursued it was because i knew deep down that ultimately i was going to want the solar roof, so it didnt make sense to take up space on my roof. Currently my hot water is gas and that works well. I had to get that tank replaced a couple weeks after moving in because it was making ridiculously loud snapping noises and i was not interested in sitting around to get another year out of it so that it ruptures and costs me 10x what it would cost to get that crap out of my house.

Ultimately, my house sits facing East/West, so i could run a glycol line out to the side of my house where the panel would be facing the sun all day, which i actually think is a good idea. If theres a good heat pump system out there that can heat a 1700sf house with zero compromises over what gas furnace can do, and can also perform that in -16°F temperatures, then i'll start saving so to speak. Because heat pump systems double as air conditioning as well. Which, my AC unit appears to be about 16 years old so that one is going to kick the bucket soon. Already had a quote for that mitsubishi heat pump system for my 425sqft rental room for about $3500-$5000, so that alone is a pretty insane amount of money to spend right now. The solar roof and Tesla are much higher priorities unless i can somehow double my income.

Earl and Nagin ... | 13 februari 2020

While you're looking to increase your renewable content, you might consider Sundrum's system that leverages the day and night thermal capacity from a traditional PV array for your glycol line. It also cools your PV on hot days, thus making it more efficient.
It is a bit expensive, however. I'm actually not sure that solar thermal makes much sense, especially with PV so cheap these days.

andy.connor.e | 13 februari 2020

I agree, but the solar capacity im getting with my solar roof is only 9.8kW, and a 50 gallon water heater would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000-4000W. Theres got to be a better solution than raw electric heat, like having a pure electric furnace. My water heater and furnace are brand new really so im not too rushed on those two, but i'd really like to figure out a furnace solution sooner than later because when my AC dies i think that would be the appropriate time to do it. Like what im doing with my roof.

blue adept | 13 februari 2020


You raise good points, one and all and everyone should, as you appear to have done, research all available options to determine which of what's available is best suited to your particular needs and / environmental conditions.

I am curious whether or not the solar thermal water heating system(s) you checked out were of the tank-less (direct supply) or tanked (secondary storage distribution-supply) variety"?"

I only ask because people often overlook the necessity of a remote storage solution in cooler climes given the reason you've mentioned (overnight freezing), though even then there should be only temporary unavailability given the Sun will, eventually, come up and thaw whatever frozen water in the system.