Officials from Pacific Gas & Electric Company in California are pleading with residents to stop taking out their frustrations on utility workers, as reports mount of attacks on those in the field who are trying to help in the midst of ongoing power outages and wildfires in the state.
What are the details?
On Tuesday, PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said in a news conference, "Our employees in the field have repeatedly been the targets of misguided attacks, verbal abuse, threats, physical assault, and even weapons. Today, one of our PG&E employees, driving a PG&E vehicle, was intentionally run off the road by an angry motorist."
Johnson also reminded Californians that "hundreds" of professionals from across the U.S. have converged on the affected areas to assist, asking his state's citizens, "What impression do we want to give these visiting workers about California?"
Last week, Fox News reported that the window of a PG&E worker's truck was shot out by a projectile believed to have been fired by a pellet gun, and on Oct. 9, another employee's vehicle window was shot out by what was believed to be a bullet fired by a passing driver. In a much less threatening incident, a PG&E office was egged earlier this month.
"I understand these shut-offs can make people upset, even angry," Johnson said, "but be upset at PG&E and don't take it out on the people who are trying to help." The CEO said of the victims, "They're not anonymous strangers; they're your neighbors. They're your friends. Most of our front line employees live in the communities where they work."
California has been hit recently by wildfires that have increasingly plagued the state, and PG&E has sought to minimize the damage and outbreaks by conducting mass blackouts in the areas impacted. The company has been blamed and sued numerous times in the past for either not doing enough to stop the fires, or for allegedly causing sparks in the first place.
The outrage against PG&E and its workers hasn't been helped by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), who has lashed out at the company as well as other investor-owned electric firms in the state.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Newsom reserved his harshest criticism for PG&E at a news conference last week, targeting the company when he said California's woes were a product of "corporate greed meeting climate change."