State Sen. Scott Wilk, representing the 21st Senate District, has requested that the governor and legislative leaders authorize a special session of the legislature to investigate the Public Safety Power Shutoffs 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.”
Power shutoffs can eliminate the ability to pump water or operate 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. He wants the investigation to 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 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.”
Sen. Wilk represents the 21st Senate District which includes the Antelope, Santa Clarita and Victor Valleys.