The outrage expressed by many mucky-mucks over power blackout hardships reminds me of that classic line from police Capt. Louis Renault in the movie “Casablanca .”
“I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here,” the Claude Rains character exclaims just before the croupier hands him his winnings.
Several utility executives and political leaders seemed shocked, shocked to find that when electricity is shut off, traffic lights go dark and drivers smash their cars. Garage doors won’t open. Food rots in refrigerators. Phones die. Air conditioners don’t cool. Batteries can’t be recharged for power scooters relied on by disabled people. The aged become especially vulnerable.
Also, shock, a company — Pacific Gas & Electric — that for many years has repeatedly proved its incompetence fails miserably to communicate with customers about what to expect.
Gosh, who would have thought?
PG&E execs, the governor, lawmakers and regulators had months to plan for a big power shutdown that everyone knew was coming at some point in an effort to prevent electrical lines from again igniting devastating wildfires.
But they didn’t plan enough. PG&E was trusted and didn’t always keep its word. And when the blackouts became a debacle, our leaders seemed stunned, although some were slow to get there.
As the power outages began, Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters that the situation was better than the alternative of deadly wildfires. No one would dispute that….