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Following a string of utility-sparked wildfires that have killed scores of Californians and destroyed billions in property, the former top regulator of California’s electric grid says it’s time for sweeping change — a public takeover of Pacific Gas & Electric and possibly other private utilities, which would be transformed into a state power company.

Loretta M. Lynch, former president of the California Public Utilities Commission, said she was fed up with a system that failed to hold giant investor-owned utilities accountable for massive wildfires and sprawling blackouts.

“I think the only way to effectively protect all California families and businesses is to create a statewide power company that is state owned,” Lynch said in an interview.

That stance is a step beyond what many public officials, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, have been willing to publicly consider. Newsom has threatened a public takeover of PG&E, the state’s largest utility, if the company doesn’t quickly emerge from bankruptcy with a plan more focused on safety and reliability. He has stopped short of discussing a unified public power authority, though he has appointed a team of energy advisors to review all options.

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