Book California burning : the fall of Pacific Gas and Electric--and what it means for America's power grid / Katherine Blunt.
Publication year: 
Call Number HD9685.U7 P256 2022
Media class: Book
Publisher: [New York] : Portfolio/Penguin
ISBN: 9780593330654 059333065X
Place of publication from publisher's website.
Extent: xiii, 350 pages ; 24 cm
A revelatory narrative with national implications, exploring the decline of California's largest utility company that led to countless wildfires--including the one that destroyed the town of Paradise--and the human cost of infrastructure failure. Pacific Gas & Electric was a legacy company built by innovators and visionaries, establishing California as a desirable home and economic powerhouse. In this book, a Wall Street Journal reporter and Pulitzer finalist examines how that legacy fell apart--unraveling a long history of deadly failures in which Pacific Gas & Electric endangered millions of Northern Californians through criminal neglect of its infrastructure. As PG&E prioritized profits and politics, power lines went unchecked--until a rusted hook purchased for 56 cents in 1921 split in two, sparking the deadliest wildfire in California history. Beginning with PG&E's public reckoning after the Paradise fire, the writer chronicles the evolution of PG&E's shareholder base, from innovators who built some of California's first long-distance power lines to aggressive investors keen on reaping dividends. Following key players through pivotal decisions and legal battles, this book reveals the forces that shaped the plight of PG&E: deregulation and market-gaming led by Enron Corp., an unyielding push for renewable energy, and a swift increase in wildfire risk throughout the West--while regulators and lawmakers pushed their own agendas. This is a deeply reported, character-driven narrative, the story of a disaster expanding into a much bigger exploration of accountability. It's an American tragedy that serves as a cautionary tale for utilities across the nation--especially as climate change makes aging infrastructure more vulnerable, with potentially fatal consequences.--
Indictment -- Building a monopoly -- Death march -- Market failure -- Transformation -- San Bruno -- No free lunch -- The trial -- Fire siege -- Chapter 22 -- Blackout -- A fragile deal -- Twice convicted -- Epilogue.