Consumer Watchdog says California needs to build its own infrastructure and not rely on outside power companies

By Kurt Rivera, KXTV ABC TV-10 Sacramento, CA

July 12, 2021

https://www.abc10.com/article/news/local/california/flex-alert-watchdog…

STOCKTON, Calif — Francha Barker, of Stockton, is all about saving energy in her home. Her thermostat is set at 78 or above, her ceiling fans are on and she's even cooking meals earlier.

"I think if we can conserve. I'm one of those proud people that let's their grass grow, fallow and just conserve on water, and I'm cool on conserving energy," Barker said.

With the state under a Flex Alert, that means from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. your thermostat should be set at 78 degrees or higher, you should avoid using major appliances like dishwashers and dryers and turning off all unnecessary lights.

"Plus, it's easy for me. It's easy for me because I'm home all day," Francha said.

But, with California's power grid stressed again this summer, the president of of a consumer advocacy organization says it doesn't have to be this way.

"More local with generation, matching an areas needs, the better we're going to be," said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, which monitors the state's gas, electric and oil companies.

He said the state needs to stop relying on outside companies for power and harness its own energy.

"PG&E, in particular, has not done a good job of clearing powerlines from the vegetation, clearing vegetation from powerlines. PG&E hasn't done a good job of burying powerlines. If they're underground, they can't catch on fire," Court said.

He added the state also needs to invest in more power generation like wind, geothermal and solar.

But he said solar, in particular, is a much under-used resource in California.

"And the reason we haven't invested more in it and roof top solar, in particular, is because the utilities have said 'if we invest in roof top solar and people generate their own power, we're going to go out of business.'"

PG&E turned down our request for an interview. They instead emailed ABC10 a pair of news releases regarding the Flex Alert, how it has cleared vegetation around nearly 1,900 miles of power lines and is completing wildlife safety inspections.