California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday lambasted the state’s largest power utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, for the blackouts that have left hundreds of thousands of people without power this week.
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“This is not a climate change story as much as a story about greed and mismanagement over the course of decades. Neglect, a desire to advance not public safety but profits,” Newsom said during a press conference.
On Tuesday, the bankrupt utility company turned off power for roughly 800,000 customers -- roughly 2 million individuals -- in northern, central and coastal California as a precaution against sparking wildfires amid conditions of extreme wind and dry weather.
Newsom blamed the company’s management for the outages while suggesting that PG&E, whose service extends to about 16 million customers in California, was too big.
The company announced on Thursday that it had started to restore power to about 126,000 customers as weather conditions improved.
“What has occurred in the last 48 hours is unacceptable,” Newsom said. “What has occurred in the last 48 hours is kids staying home from school, parents that can’t bathe their kids and folks that come home from work who can’t even find a way to get into their garage. You’ve got people that can’t even access water or medical supplies. We’re seeing the scale and scope of something no state in the 21st century should experience.”
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection found that PG&E’s faulty equipment was responsible for the devastating Camp Fire, which obliterated the town of Paradise and killed 85 people. It was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. PG&E filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late January after facing liabilities from the fires.