The second PG&E bankruptcy was precipitated by climate change but also by historic patterns and practices of the investor owned utility as well as California land use and energy policy. Moving past the bankruptcy, California electricity providers will face a more challenging environment where costs are newly paramount and progress on clean energy goals will have to be achieved even as the grid goes through a necessary cycle of investment and revitalization. All of this must be acheived while maintaining reliability as renewables provide an unprecedented share of total electricity. Getting the policy and investment mix right will be particularly important given the structure of PG&E's reorganization and the consequent risks for future ratepayers and the state of large catastrophic wildfires. Looming behind all of this is the very real possibility of a third bankruptcy and a transition to a public ownership model. There is very little margin for error as the State seeks to achieve greater building and transportation electrification in pursuit of its 2030 and 2045 climate goals. It’s a tremendous challenge that will not be achieved without profound innovation in energy technologies and service models.
Speaker: Michael Wara, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment
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