With Great Power

How California’s worst wildfire rocked the power industry

Episode Summary

Katherine Blunt chronicles the causes of the 2018 Camp fire and how one of the country’s most destructive wildfires sent shockwaves through the power industry.

Episode Notes

The 2018 Camp fire was the most destructive wildfire in California's history. By the time the smoke cleared, more than 150,000 acres had burned. Damages surpassed $16 billion. Dozens had died. Thousands more were displaced. So how did it all happen? 

The increasingly hot and dry conditions in the region coupled with the high Diablo winds turned the forest floor into a powder keg. Within hours, thousands of homes were destroyed in Butte County and the surrounding areas. 

Katherine Blunt was just a few days into her new role as a reporter covering renewable energy and utilities for the Wall Street Journal when the fire blew up.

She chronicled how the blazed occurred and the aftermath for Pacific Gas & Electric — the utility whose equipment caused the fire — in her 2022 book “California Burning: The Fall of Pacific Gas and Electric and What it Means for America’s Power Grid.” 

This week, Brad talks with Katherine about reporting on the Camp fire and its ramifications for the local community and PG&E, and what it all means for the utility industry.

This podcast is produced by GridX. GridX is the Enterprise Rate Platform that modern utilities rely on to usher in our clean energy future.