California “Energy Czar” Failed to Prevent New Round of Power Blackouts
“PG&E confirmed that it has completed the rotating power outages conducted this evening at the direction of the California Independent System Operator (CAISO),” reads an August 15 notice from PG&E, which explains, “rotating outages are a measure employed to relieve strain on the power grid during the statewide heatwave.” Gov. Gavin Newsom was quick to respond.
“You can’t control the weather but you can prepare for these weather events,” the governor told reporters. “Let me make this crystal clear: we failed to predict and plan for these shortages and that’s simply unacceptable. I’m the governor. I’m ultimately accountable and will ultimately take responsibility.” The governor left out another reason the new round of blackouts is unacceptable.
Last November, Gov. Gavin Newsom named his cabinet secretary Ana Matosantos the new state “Energy Czar.” Gov. Newsom is on record that Ana is a “genius” and a person of “unrivaled professional accomplishment.” Whatever Matosantos did since November failed to prevent the current round of rolling blackouts. That should come as no surprise.
Matosantos has a degree in political science and feminist studies but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her state finance director, a post more suitable for a proven expert with advanced degrees in economics. Blacked out Californians might also wonder about her energy experience.
In 2016, Congress passed the PROMESA legislation to deal with Puerto Rico’s $72 billion debt, and the legislation created the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Board. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi favored Matosantos for a board post, and she was duly appointed. It was not disclosed that she was also on the board of the Matosantos Commercial Corporation, owned by her wealthy family, with deep interests in the energy business on the island.
According to Christopher D. Coursen, former counsel of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, the Oversight Board “has been a complete failure and has not achieved anything of significance.” Because of conflicts of interest, Coursen recommended her removal. That did not prevent Gov. Gavin Newsom from bringing Matosantos aboard and proclaiming her state “Energy Czar.”
The rolling blackouts of 2003, Californians might recall, were a factor in the recall of Gov. Gray Davis. He gave way to Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, who first picked Ana Matosantos. In energy and politics, what goes around rolls around.