Amid reports of Pacific Gas and Electric Company workers being threatened and run off the road, Gov. Gavin Newsom urged Californians to save their outrage for the utility’s corporate owners and treat workers on the ground with respect.
“They’re your community members. They send their kids to the same school you send your kids to,” he said during a news conference in El Dorado County on Thursday. “They didn’t create this mess. They’re trying to fix it.”
Newsom said some workers have reported having objects thrown at them by people who are presumably angry about widespread PG&E power outages that have hamstrung the state. More than 1 million people and businesses have lost power amid the blackouts, which the utility says have been necessary to prevent its equipment from sparking fires as hurricane-force winds swept through California.
Newsom has blamed PG&E for failing to maintain its electrical equipment, making widespread blackouts necessary to prevent fires.
PG&E officials have described numerous incidents of workers being targeted. Last week, CEO Bill Johnson told reporters a PG&E worker’s car was apparently shot at with a pellet gun in Glenn County. He and Andy Vesey, president of the utility, have been pleading with customers to stop harassing company employees.
“I know the anger’s there but please, please don’t take it out on the people in the field,” Vesey said Monday.
PG&E workers have been inspecting power lines to ensure they are still safe to operate despite the high winds and to turn power back on in communities where power was cut.
Some workers’ lives have been threatened, Newsom said. In one case, Newsom said a PG&E worker coming to inspect lines and restore power was run off the road.
“You can be rightfully outraged, and I will be right there front and center with you, about the corporate mismanagement,” Newsom said. “But the individual workers that are out there on the lines, please respect them.”
Sacramento Bee reporter Dale Kasler contributed to this report.