The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Utility Companies Turn the Lights Out

Oct 14, 2019

Last Wednesday, the utility company Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) started a planned power outage. It affected 500,000 households in a large area of Northern California. According to the California officials, as many as 2.5 million people could be impacted, perhaps for days.

Although PG&E was supposed to give sufficient notice, many Northern Californians said they were not notified on time. Now, they are in a rush to buy batteries, generators and canned foods to survive the power outage. Schools and other educational institutions like U.C. Berkeley and Humboldt State University cancelled their classes and closed their campuses. Hospitals and their patients who rely on electrical devices are also threatened by these power cuts.

Last year, PG&E equipment caused the deadliest wildfire in California’s history. Early this year, PG&E declared bankruptcy to avoid full responsibility. Now, to evade the costs of the next disaster, PG&E takes the easy way out by cutting electricity to people who depend on it. Two other utility companies in Southern California, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison, are planning to do the same.

California is the world’s fifth-largest economy, where the population invents, manufactures, and hosts some of the most modern and advanced technologies in the world. But the population is taken hostage by the utility companies, who protect their profits by using outdated power grid equipment, and then cutting power when their equipment poses risks.

Instead of being a modern place to live, California now resembles an impoverished country, with millions of its residents without electricity. This is the product of capitalism, promoted and defended by the companies and their rich owners. And, sending us into the dark.