PG&E begins restoring power to customers

Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s biggest utility company, announced on Thursday it had begun to restore power to customers affected by a planned outage.

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About 126,000 customers had service restored as weather conditions improved, the company said. About 600,000 customers remain without power.

"We faced a choice between hardship or safety, and we chose safety. We deeply apologize for the inconvenience and the hardship, but we stand by the decision because the safety of our customers and communities must come first," Michael Lewis, PG&E senior vice president of electric operations, said in a statement.

Peak wind gusts had been recorded at 77 miles per hour, the utility said, during a two-day wind event that is expected to end on Thursday.

CVS Pharmacy shift supervisor James Quinn throws out ice cream from darkened freezers as downtown Sonoma, Calif., remains without power on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The utility had cut power to more than 1 million people in an effort to prevent wildfires caused by downed power lines.

The Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) was implemented in two phases – and a third is still being considered, though it would only impact about 4,000 customers.

PG&E filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in late January after facing liabilities stemming from wildfires in Northern California that occurred over the past two years.

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A U.S. bankruptcy judge on Wednesday night ruled that the company doesn’t have the ability to control its reorganization completely on its own – which sent shares tumbling on Thursday.

PG&E shares have lost more than 75 percent of their value since Nov. 8, when the Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history broke out. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection found that PG&E was responsible for that wildfire, and others. Last month, the utility reached an $11 billion settlement for claims tied to the 2017 and 2018 wildfires.

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FOX Business’ Jonathan Garber contributed to this report.