To the editor: While shutting off electric power at times of high winds and great fire danger makes sense in many cases, there are also dangerous downsides.
People relying on power for life-saving equipment are put in jeopardy. Furthermore, many of the most vulnerable properties are in rural areas without municipal water systems. Residents there rely on wells with electric pumps; without electricity, the wells are useless, and firefighters can only watch helplessly as people and homes are threatened.
The California Public Utilities Commission needs to set guidelines for determining when and where power will be cut and how residents and businesses will be notified to minimize collateral damage.
Valerie Thomas, Newhall
To the editor: We are shutting off electricity to millions of Californians, yet I hear next to nothing about building or upgrading the electrical power system, particularly in sensitive areas, to be able to withstand high winds without breaking down. As the saying goes, “If we can put a man on the moon...”
Larry Keffer, Mission Hills
To the editor: The new normal for wildfires is that they appear to be burning all the time.
According to CalMatters, California now has 78 more “fire days” than it did 50 years ago. And, 20 of the most destructive fires have occurred in the last 12 years.
While this problem has many causes, including malfunctioning power lines and homes built too close to forests, there is little doubt the major cause for the increase in the frequency and intensity of fires is global warming. A hotter, drier climate reduces forests to kindling.
We can spend time and energy blaming utilities, zoning boards and others. The truth is, we are on fire because emissions from burning coal, oil and gas are overheating the Earth.
So, why not phase out these fuels by taxing the polluters and using the revenue to help us transition to a clean-energy future?
Bob Taylor, Newport Beach
To the editor: For years, I’ve been wondering exactly what it is that the California Public Utilities Commission accomplishes.
Maybe that’s the third agency of government that then-presidential candidate Rick Perry famously proposed to eliminate in 2012 but couldn’t name.
If so, perhaps “oops” was quite appropriate.
Denys Arcuri, Indio
To the editor: The recent focus on investor-owned utility management may serve as an indicator of how we have been too accepting of mediocre performance not only in our leaders, but also in ourselves.
Mary Leah Plante, Los Angeles