PG&E prepares to cut power to 303K Californians

The planned blackouts come amid state outage investigation

PG&E detailed plans on Monday to potentially cut power to hundreds of thousands of California customers across 25 counties this week amid incoming weather conditions that could cause equipment to spark wildfires.

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An additional 39,000 customers were notified late Monday that they could have their power shut off, piling on to an initial estimate of 264,000, bringing the total to 303,000.

Counties that stand to be affected include Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Mateo.

The utility noted that it was giving customers 48-hour advance notice, as high-fire risk conditions were expected to begin Wednesday and continue throughout the day on Thursday.

If PG&E follows through with the public safety power shutoff, it aims to have services restored by the end of the day Thursday.

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State officials, however, aren’t too happy with these planned outages.

California regulators voted unanimously last week to investigate PG&E over multiple planned power shutoff events last month, to assess whether it is appropriately measuring the need to provide safe and reliable services when initiating the outages.

Millions of people were without power — some for several days — last month amid windy weather conditions that stoked fears about igniting wildfires.

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Regulators and Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom have expressed concern that the utility is not using the shutoffs as a last resort.

PG&E stood by its decision to preemptively cut power, “given the large-scale, historic weather.”

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Newsom said at the end of October that the utility would begin crediting customers who had their service disrupted. Newsom has also said that 2019 has not been a particularly bad year for fires compared to previous years.

PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January in a bid to relieve itself of billions of dollars in liabilities stemming from lawsuits over deadly fires in the state alleging thats its equipment allegedly helped start them in 2017 and 2018.

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