I think something needs to change with northern California’s power delivery system and maybe provider.
Yes, but the unanswered question is who pays. An interesting perspective is the Energry Insitute at Hass (Univeristy of California, Berkeley) paper:
What Wildfire Costs Will Depend on How We Pay
Before digging into the details of how these wildfire costs should be
recovered, it’s important to be clear about what costs we’re talking
about. Wildfire costs passed through to electricity ratepayers fall
into two main categories.
Let’s call the first “climate change adaptation costs”. In a hotter
and drier California, running electric power lines through parched
forests is an increasingly risky business. To adapt, we need to up our
fire prevention game. Regulated electric utilities are now required to
develop mitigation plans (e.g. tree trimming, new weather stations,
disaster response services) that will cost several billions of dollars
to implement. Utilities will recover these costs in higher
electricity rates. We’re already starting to see these cost
increases in rate cases.
The second cost category is potentially much larger. Call these damage
compensation costs. In California, utilities are on the hook for any
damage caused by fires started by their equipment, even if the
equipment was operated responsibly. If the utility is not at fault,
these costs can be passed on to electricity consumers. The idea that
the utility should take on all damage liability, guilty or not, has
been controversial. One rationalization is that inverse condemnation
serves to “socialize the burden” of costs “that should be assumed by
And the climate change irony:
California’s climate change mitigation strategy hinges on millions of
households trading their gas-fueled cars/appliances for
electric-fueled alternatives. Fuel prices matter when consumers choose
their cars and appliances. If electricity prices are sky high, who’s
going to choose to electrify?