PG&E’s Rap Sheet So Far…

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Portrait of a ‘Corporado.’

This is the serial felon corporation that Gov. Newsom wants to award a $1.4 Billion ‘forgivable loan’ for continuing to operate the two aged reactors at Diablo Canyon in an earthquake and tsunami zone for the next 5-20 years.

If the blind-sided California legislators in the Senate and Assembly fall for Newsom’s last-minute gambit on behalf of a moribund international nuclear power industry, PG&E will stand to reap a 310% profit by the third year of the extension.

This is a challenge to California’s proud history of nuclear resistance. 

If the ‘Save Diablo’ campaign succeeds in California, the nuclear revivalist cult believes it will be empowered in its nation-wide agenda to subsidize unsafe and uneconomic nuclear utilities across the country and around the world.

The nuclear power and nuclear weapons industries are joined at the hip.

The nuclear bucks must stop here.

                                                                           James Heddle – EON

Here’s a list of some of the known PG&E actions, adapted, with additions, from a timeline put together by

* PG&E’s creation was the brain child of Southern Pacific’s William Crocker as a way to outmaneuver the city of San Francisco’s 1898 Charter that called for the public takeover of private water, transit, phone and electric companies.

* The company known as Pacific Gas and Electric was incorporated on October 10, 1905, as a consolidation of more than two dozen power and water concerns around the state. PG&E went on to consolidate power in northern California and by 1952 represented 520 merged companies;

* San Francisco supervisor’s testified that they had been given major bribes by PG&E during the 1906-9 San Francisco Graft Trials that indicted Southern Pacific’s (the Octopus) control over the state and city politics;

* SF labor leader Tom Mooney fingered by PG&E Pinkerton agents;

* In 1922, PG&E spent $220,000 of the $500,000 raised by the state’s private electric companies (that used vicious red baiting tactics) to defeat the California Initiative that would have created a statewide publicly owned water and power system that FDR eventually created – The Central Valley Project. (The initiative also lost in 1924 and 1926).

* As Part of a national compromised between public and private power interests, the 1920 Federal Power Act allowed PG&E and other companies to use eminent domain to take state and private land to build over 400 dams as long as they agreed to let these dam licenses to return to public authority every 50 years. – Latest cycle of licenses starts in 2022!

* PG&E took part in the national campaign in the 1920’s, led by the National Electric Light Association, that took over the country’s book companies and produced propaganda about the benefits of private ownership vs. publicly owned electricity.

* in 1925, PG&E convinced San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors to give it control of the city’s publicly financed Hetch Hetchy electrical system [see: ] that it has made millions of dollars on.

* In 1945, PG&E outdid its own Hetch Hetchy scandal, when republicans cut all funding for the Central Valley Project’s grid, resulting in the collapse of public electric coops statewide just as PG&E was building its own power lines up to all the system’s major dams from Shasta to Friant.

* Being the nation’s largest utility in the 1950’s PG&E was a one electric industry’s leaders (along with GE & Westhinghouse) in promoting the development of nuclear power generation.

* Holds the distinction of being the focus of the first anti-nuclear movement in history, starting in 1958 when they tried to construct a nuclear reactor at Bodega Bay, a thousand feet from the epicenter of the 1906 earthquake where ground shifts up 30 feet took place.

* As a result of fears around the 1975 Proposition 15 that would have stopped nuclear power development, the state of California passed legislation that banned further construction of more nuclear facilities until a permanent home for spent nuclear fuel was ready. PG&E took the legislation all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and lost.

* Bribed the Sierra club into allowing the siting of Diablo Canyon at the 2nd to last coastal wilderness in California. The scandal led to David Brower leaving the Sierra Club and forming Friends of the Earth.

* The first time the reactors were turned on, 14,000 Abalone in Diablo Bay were killed. The cove was also home to a sacred Chumash burial area and was the home of the worlds largest oak trees. It was given the name Diablo after Catholic Priests felt their first earthquake in the 1700’s.

* Pushed to build over 60 nuclear reactors in its service area. But ended up taking on over 20 years of opposition to its push to build reactors all over the state.

* Opposed lifeline electric rates for poor Californians, but failed.

* PG&E failed to even acknowledge the existence of the Hosgri Fault when first proposing Diablo Canyon Construction Nor did it ever mention that:

* The Hosgri fault likely caused Millions in damages to Santa Barbara (14 deaths) including the destruction of a 400 foot dam after 1925 quake.

* Forced to rebuild the Diablo Canyon reactors 2 times, running the cost up from $300 million to $5.8 billion as a result of:

* A newly hired engineer, in 1981, discovers that PG&E had built the seismic supports for the reactors backwards, just after the Abalone Alliance had completed the largest civil disobedience action in U.S. history.

* PG&E is a major financial supporter of the Pacific Legal Foundation that filed a 1981 SLAPP suit against the Abalone Alliance in an attempt to get it to pay for the costs of its Diablo Canyon blockade. The suit went all the way to the U.S. Supreme court before being withdrawn in 1986.

* PG&E is the proud recipient of the only company to ever have an operating license (Diablo Canyon) pulled by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

* Ronald Reagan secretly ordered the EPA to give the financial strapped utility $2.7 billion to help PG&E finish Diablo Canyon.

* The Diablo Canyon operation was allowed to go ahead by Judge Robert Bork. He was famous for being the Nixon’s saturday night massacre lawyer that fired the Watergate prosecutor.

* The company spent $110 million in legal fees to win the Diablo Canyon rate case. The state, which had promised that it would force the utility to eat at least $2 billion of the construction costs settled a deal that allowed PG&E to set up a $54 billion 30 year contract.

* The 1989 rate settlement led to the steepest rate increases in the country, driving electric costs from 8 cents a kwh to over 14 cents by 1994.
* This huge increase led to the revolt of big electric users, that in turn caused the disastrous Wilson deregulation plan.

*When the the California Public Utilities Commission allowed TURN to put rebuttals into PG&E’s electric bill, the company took the decision to the U.S. Supreme court and won, resulting in the collapse of Ralph Nader’s nationwide Citizen Utility Board (CUB) Campaign.

* Designed and built the Helms Stored River project, that went nearly ten times over original budget and killed a handful of workers.

* Caught in PCB transformer scandals that contaminated a major San Francisco high rise and its own workers statewide.

* PG&E was a coalition partner in destroying the grassroots based alternative energy movement in the state that was culminated in their FERC appeal that killed PURPA contracts in the state in 1994.

* The San Diego team of Steve Peace and Governor Wilson led the team plan to give the state’s utilities the disastrous deregulation mess. It included a $28 billion bonus to cover all the construction costs of Diablo Canyon and SoCal Eds’ SONGS reactors.

* PG&E is a member of the Palo Alto based Electric Power Research Institute’s disastrous national electric industry deregulation agenda that cost $17 billion to state electric customers in 2001 that led to Enron’s bankruptcy.

* In the late 1990’s it was disclosed that PG&E had covered up the extent of damages to the coast and Abalone, and was given a $14 million fine. The fine was later reversed.

* Check out the Julia Roberts movie about how PG&E contaminated hundreds of families in Hinkley California with Chromium.

* PG&E has led the attack against the public power movements from 1910-1930 and 1980 to present. See Dan Berman’s “Who Owns the Sun” or read many of the San Francisco Bay Guardian’s articles on the subject.

* Between 2000 and 2010 PG&E spent $112 Million lobbying politicians.

* in 2010, the year of San Bruno gas pipeline explosion, PG&E increased its lobbying by 600% or a record breaking $44 million.

* Since the 2008 downturn, PG&E has been one of a handful of major U.S. Corporations that have not had to pay taxes yet still making sizable profits.

*PG&E accepts its criminal guilt over the 2010 San Bruno gas explosion, agreeing to a fine of $6 million vs the called for $562 million demanded.

* In 2010 PG&E puts a bill on the statewide ballot and spends $46 million in an attempt to kill the statewide Community Choice Movement but fails.

* Governor Newsom selected PG&E’s favorite law-firm (O’Melveny & Myers) that spent $100 million in legal fees during the 1985-89 CPUC Diablo Rate Case, to write up PG&E’s 2nd bankruptcy settlement plan over its role in wildfire damages.

* City’s across Northern California have been calling for the takeover of PG&E for years but to no avail.

It would be nice to run down the historic numbers of how much money PG&E has spent lobbying over the years, not to mention how much money they have made from their takeover of Hetch Hetchy and the Central Valley Project power grabs.