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A Halloween fright

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It must be Halloween. John Texeira ("California's green energy scam," Oct. 24) is trying to scare us with that Government Socialism Monster hiding behind the solar panel you're contemplating buying.

In response:

1. Re-opening Diablo Canyon Power Plant will not save California from wildfires started by PG&E equipment. Its electricity would still need to be transported over hill and dale, along unmaintained PG&E wires and transmitters, which are causing the fires. Shutting up the environmentalists will not cause PG&E to spend the money to cut what's growing under its power lines. Despite former Gov. Jerry Brown's veto of SB 1463 (which you may be referring to), the Public Utilities Commission never stopped prioritizing lands susceptible to wildfire.

2. PG&E is a privately owned corporation that is also essentially a monopoly. Its primary responsibility is to turn a profit for its shareholders, and (according to The Wall Street Journal) one way it does this is by cutting expenses related to the maintenance of its equipment. Capitalistic competition would do it good. Perhaps Monterey Bay Community Power can offer that.

3. I'm a customer. I don't like PG&E, and I especially hate that my power was off for 48 hours because of the danger of its equipment causing fires. But I can't go to the other power company down the street, which may have safer equipment, because there is no other power company in my area. With no competition, why should PG&E spend money on equipment maintenance when that money could go into the shareholders' and executives' pockets?

4. Texeira is wrong about solar. The electricity generated by solar panels doesn't go right to the grid. Solar panels power your individual home. Any excess electricity is sold back to the grid. The idea is perfectly capitalistic. People make electricity and they sell what they make. He's right. It's a big investment, and it would require buying electricity off the grid when the solar panels don't make enough. But it's not socialism. In fact, it would provide much needed competition for PG&E, allowing customers to tell PG&E to take a hike.

5. I wish I had an option to use Monterey Bay Community Power instead of PG&E, or "Acme Power," or anything but PG&E. But in my area, there is no other option. No competition. PG&E has been dragged kicking and screaming to spend money to cut undergrowth, to inspect its lines, and to repair them. But too little, too late. Meanwhile, people die and homes and businesses are destroyed.

PG&E's shareholders and executives are laughing all the way to the bank. Oh, until the stock tanked. I hope they unloaded it at the right time.

Happy Halloween.

Sharon Reinbott



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