At least two California fires were caused by the power provider utility company Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E), according to the latest news.

This new twist,  revealed by the utility itself on Monday relates to the week-end fire near San Francisco Bay Area. Fires were abetted by strong winds prevailing in the San Francisco weather.

According to PG&E, broken wire and a downed pole on a transformer could have caused two wildfires in Lafayette, California, on Sunday.

The twin fires are among a dozen fires ravishing both Northern and Southern California over the past week catalyzed by strong winds and dry conditions. Already 200,000 people have been vacated from their homes.

Widespread blackouts are prevailing in the state because of expanding fires. The blazes had destroyed a tennis club and forced many evacuations in Lafayette, 20 miles east of San Francisco.

Problems mounting for the California utility

The new revelation will add to the problems for the utility that is facing declining public confidence, bankruptcy, and a plunging stock price.

In the PG&E induced fires, one fire damaged the main building and destroyed two outbuildings at the Lafayette Tennis Club, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The local newspaper San Francisco Chronicle reported that PG&E did not shut off power in Lafayette where the fires started, despite cutting power to millions of residents in other areas to avoid wildfires from sparking,

The company said last week its equipment malfunctioned just before the Kincade fire began although the exact cause of the fire is under investigation.

PG&E, facing Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings was responsible for causing the deadliest wildfire in California history in 2018 that killed 85 people.

To prevent more fires in Northern California, PG&E cut off power to millions of people. The outcry over chaos in cities of San Francisco and San Jose has increased demand to buy PG&E’s assets and convert it into consumer-owned co-operatives.

Resentment against investor-led utilities

According to Dave Roberts, an activist, the idea of public ownership of utility companies dates back to the beginning of the utility industry. Today, America houses more than 2,000 public utilities.

There is the gratifying example of Nebraska where electricity is supplied solely by publicly-owned utilities since 1946. The power tariffs in Nebraska are the lowest in America.

One more instance is Burlington, the home town of Democrat leader Bernie Sanders. Their power supply is run by a municipally-owned utility company since 1905. It had the distinction of being the first city in America to commit to 100 percent renewable energy.

Perception is that investor-owned utilities misspent the money paid by from ratepayers to lobby regulators and politicians and fatten their profits.