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Abolishing private utilities isn’t the solution to California’s wildfire threat

Abolishing private utilities isn’t the solution to California’s wildfire threat
Electricity distribution lines at Southern California Edison's grid control center in Ontario are shown. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: A state takeover of California’s investor-owned utilities would fail to solve what Gov. Gavin Newsom calls California’s most serious problem: climate change-driven wildfires.

Nothing about government ownership would improve wildfire safety. Nor is there history to suggest that a government entity could more effectively manage a utility infrastructure the scale of Southern California Edison’s. In fact, customers and taxpayers could end up paying more for wildfires since the money invested by shareholders would no longer be available.

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As an investor-owned utility, Edison is a primary deliverer of clean energy that improves air quality, powers electric transportation and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. We are recognized as one of our industry’s innovators.

We are also one of California’s biggest taxpayers and, entirely from shareholder dollars, supporters of nonprofits. This proposal would eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars in local tax revenue and charitable contributions.

The real solution is not a state takeover fraught with risk and uncertainty, but coming together — state and local governments, firefighting agencies, public and private energy utilities, state and federal forestry management and more — to attack our common problem: the new abnormal wildfires that have created unprecedented challenges for everyone.

Pedro Pizarro, Rosemead

The writer is president and chief executive of Edison International.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook.

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