At the request of LA TimesThe UC Berkeley Institute for Government Studies surveyed thousands of Californians in November about how forest fires and the new Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) company 's habit of cutting off power supplies to millions of people have affected them.
The consensus? Nobody is happy Almost everyone has overcome the bankruptcy of SF-based public services. However, few can agree on what to do about it.
The university conducted the survey by email between November 21 and 26, covering 3,482 California voters, including 840 from the Bay Area (a plurality among the regions surveyed).
The big conclusions include:
Overall, 19.7 percent of Californians surveyed say they were "directly affected" by forest fires this year, either by having to evacuate from a fire or having to turn off their energy as a preventative measure. In particular, the formulation of this question means that fewer respondents from Southern California reported having been affected, Los Angeles County had the most, with 13.8 percent, but in the Bay area, the number increased to 29.8 per one hundred, the highest in the state.
When asked who should have the authority to decide when mass planned power outages occur, only 10.5 percent of people in the Bay Area said PG&E should decide. Another 13.8 percent said the state should make those decisions. By far, the most popular option was that both parties should have decided (72.8), with state regulators acting as a second group of decision makers.
When asked what to do with PG&E, 10.1 percent of SF respondents said they would leave the company as it is. Seven percent support the idea of selling the company to a different utility company, while 23 percent say they like the idea of turning PG&E into a state agency. Another 22.9 percent suggested dividing it into several smaller public services, administered by the county or city. But the plurality of respondents (26.6 percent) admit that they don't know what should be done, just that they don't like the status quo.
In the state in general, PG&E did a little better compared to public opinion in the Bay Area. For example, 14 percent of people across California said that utilities should maintain unilateral authority to cut off the electricity supply, and 12 percent suggested keeping PG&E as it is once bankruptcy ends.
Last week, PG&E announced that it would pay $ 13.5 billion in damages in what the company calls the "important final agreement" for claims related to fires of 2018, 2017 and 2015.
In total, the civil liability related to fires for the company has been $ 25 billion, a tremendous sum, but less than many of the worst scenarios projected for the company in recent months.
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