I resaw Erin Brockovich – the movie, not the real person – the other day. I had forgotten how good the movie is and how bad it paints PG&E. I have alot of experience with PG&E and they are every bit as bad as the movie depicts. They are, by far, the worst organization I have ever worked with.
In my experience, PG&E is way more difficult to work with than any state organization, worse than any water department or city. It is much harder to do business with than the Federal Government. Without going off to far on a Libertarian rant, I think that a huge number of laws and codes are just there to protect some vested interest; a rich vested interest. However, governments are – to a greater or lesser degree – accountable to the people. The less accountable they are, the worse they are. The United States – Federal – government is not as accountable as I would like, nonetheless, it is still accountable. But PG&E isn’t. It may pretend to be but, in almost every area, it isn’t.
The PG&E entrenched bureaucracy with its unknown – to the outside world – table of organization and power centers, does what it thinks is best for itself. The picture above is a scan of a mailer that PG&E sent out telling us what a good job they are doing. The mailer neglects to tell us that a 30″ gas pipeline blew up in September of 2010 because of neglect and eight people were killed and alot more were injured. They do tell us that they replaced nearly 15 miles of gas transmission lines in the Bay Area and pressure tested an additional 50 miles but they neglect to tell us that this is out of 48,579 miles of natural gas distribution and transportation pipelines in Northern and Central California.
The second worse organization was a railroad, Union Pacific (I think). We were building a soundwall next to their tracks and wanted to get permission to encroach on their right-of-way with our cranes. The request had to go to engineering and a right-of-way committee and I would call week after week for a schedule without getting one. Finally, I told our guys to just do the work and try to stay away from their right-of-way as much as they could. We had been finished with the work for about six months before the permission to do the work came through . When people say that the government should be run more like a business, I wonder what they are really talking about.
Aside from the obvious, a business is designed to make money and government is supposed to protect Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness, a business that has been around for a hundred years is probably run much worse than any government.