How Incentives California Regulators Give to Utilities Can Leave the Power Grid More Vulnerable

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PG&E transmission lines near Santa Rosa in November 2019. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

U.S. District Judge William Alsup recently said PG&E may have been "criminally reckless" for failing to remove a tree near the site of last year's deadly Zogg Fire. As state fire investigators probe whether PG&E's power lines caused that blaze in a remote part of Shasta County, energy expert Steve Weissman has been questioning the wisdom of performance incentives that California regulators give to utilities. In a recent paper, Weissman argues such incentive programs can have unintended and sometimes catastrophic consequences by encouraging companies to prioritize reliability over safety.  He suggests this approach may be a factor contributing to fire danger. Weissman spoke with The California Report's Lily Jamali.

Guest: Steve Weissman, Senior Policy Advisor, Center for Sustainable Energy; Lecturer, UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy