by Rob Malcolm

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — PG&E is spending billions of dollars, but not on fixing its broken system. Instead, the money is being poured into a promise to go green.

The Public Safety Power Shutoffs are generating a lot of controversy at the State Capitol, and now some lawmakers say they’ve found a source of money to help pay to fix the power lines.

Assemblyman James Gallagher says he’s come up with a way to pay for improving PG&E infrastructure without raising rates.

“We should be putting a whole lot more of ratepayer dollars into building up and modernizing the infrastructure,” Gallagher said.

Now he’s introducing a bill that would allow money currently being spent on green energy projects to go toward fixing power lines.

“We have old utility infrastructure and it’s sparking and its falling on a tinderbox of vegetation that’s built up over decades,” he said.

READ: Northern California Congressman’s Bill Targets PG&E For Giving Executives Bonuses

Right now, PG&E must get 60% of its power from clean energy by 2035 and all of it must come from renewable sources by 2045. This new idea would allow them to divert the clean energy money toward fixing the power grid and put more money into forestry management and vegetation management.

PG&E says they spend nearly $2.5 billion a year on meeting clean energy goals and only $1.5 billion on maintenance expenses.

“That’s out of whack. We should be putting a whole lot of money, ratepayer money, existing ratepayer dollars, that we already pay into building up and modernizing the infrastructure,” Gallagher said.

Environmental California’s director Dan Jacobson opposes the plan.

“Sounds like something you would do for political gain, not something to really help the state of California,” Jacobson said.

He says once the clean energy requirements are enacted, large power plants and transmission lines won’t be needed because most energy will be produced locally.

“We know that the current system doesn’t work, we need a new system, but throwing out clean energy standards to try and come up with a new idea, that doesn’t make sense,” Jacobson said.

CBS13 reached out to PG&E to ask what they think of this idea. They say they are too busy with wildfires and trying to restore power to take a position.


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