PG&E's Issues Could Have Lasting Impact On California Politics

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) workers remain at the scene of a three-alarm fire that started after a construction crew hit a gas line on February 07, 2019 in San Francisco, California.
Photo credit Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Whether it's surprise rotating power shutoffs, downed power lines or public safety power shutoffs, history has shown that customers may take out their frustration with PG&E on legislators. 

“Not only do they have lasting impact with respect to power, they also had lasting impact with respect to Governor Gray Davis, who lost his job, who was recalled from office, in part, because of this power mess that we had going on for two or three years,” said San Jose State Political Science Professor Emeritus Larry Gerston. 

Davis was recalled in 2003, after Californians experienced rolling blackouts due to an energy crisis in the early 2000s. 

Gerston told KCBS Radio that consumers typically want to see someone held accountable. 

“PG&E has found itself in one problem after another, with respect to management, the fires, going bankrupt a couple of times,” he said. “We talk about the postal service and how everybody expects the postal service to work just right, and gets upset if it doesn’t. That’s how it is when it comes to power in California.” 

Gerston added that only time will tell what the political implications of PG&E’s failures will be.