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Big utilities have failed California. It’s time for them to face real competition

Big utilities have failed California. It’s time for them to face real competition
Pacific Gas & Electric Co., California's largest utility, has announced it is preparing to file for bankruptcy. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

To the editor: Edison International chief Pedro Pizzaro writes about “our common problem” of fierce wildfires in California.

Utilities are a monopoly and ensured a profit because they must put the public good first. Energy utilities in California have a very long history of ignoring this responsibility.

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In Southern California, Sempra Energy — owner of Southern California Gas Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric — has shown egregious incompetence in the cases of the Aliso Canyon gas leak and the San Diego County wildfires in 2007. As for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. up north, it had only a small gas explosion and a few preventable sparks in the forest.

Here’s a solution: a free market for energy that includes all generators. Rooftop solar would really take off, storage would come into its own, and locally produced generation would obviate the need for transmission lines.

I agree with Pizzaro that the state might do a terrible job — but it would do better than our private utilities.

Gregg Ferry, Carlsbad

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