“Corporate greed in California” might sound like an overly-used TV or movie plot. However, it is also a sad reality for a state that is the home to more than 600 corporations, including the largest power company in the United States (PG&E). Greed in business is never a good thing, but it seems especially more heinous when the commodity is energy.
For most of us, we think of electricity as the thing that runs our computers and TVs, lights our homes, and gives the Roomba its daily “juice” to clean the floors. But we probably don’t think of electricity as something to be bought and sold and traded like properties in Monopoly. Electricity’s history, specifically in California, has proved time and again that it is valuable – enough to be exploited over and over.
Between 2000 and 2001, California found itself in a massive energy crisis. There wasn’t enough electricity to meet the overwhelming demand. Rolling blackouts became a thing as the state tried to keep the whole grid from failing. Eventually, the truth came out that corporations, namely Rome-Esque Enron, were intentionally manipulating the system. Why? To make more money. Thousands of people were negatively affected and hurt because some people in power wanted to add a few more zeroes to their profit margin.
It seems that history has been repeating itself with PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric Co), considered the largest power company in both California AND the United States. PG&E found itself under fire in 2019, mainly because of wildfires in 2015, 2018, and 2019 reportedly caused by the company’s outdated power lines and electrical grids. And then, to add insult to injury, those devastated by the fires couldn’t even attach financial responsibility where it was due since PG&E filed for bankruptcy (for the second time) in 2019.
The reason for not replacing and updating the equipment that supplies electricity to over 5 million people? If you ignore the corporate spin, the short answer is greed. The majority owners of PG&E stock are other corporations – The Vanguard Group, Fidelity Management & Research, and American Funds Investment are the top three shareholders (not including the PG&E Fire Victim Trust). The top 20 shareholders are investment corporations and mutual fund companies, all of whom have a profit-first mentality.
Is there anything wrong with wanting to make a profit on your business or investment? No. When does it become a problem? When “the selfish want or need for money/power (more than is needed) leads to the detriment of others.”
PG&E is linked to 24 fires that affected 70,000 people (including over 120 deaths) and burned down almost 20,000 buildings – doesn’t that sound like greed? Stop paying the utility company and stuffing their pockets. Get started on a custom solar solution that puts you in control and money back in your pocket!