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California governor says 'greed' to blame for power outage as more than 300,000 remain in the dark

An angry California Gov. Gavin Newsom slammed the state's largest utility over...

Posted: Oct 11, 2019 3:41 AM
Updated: Oct 11, 2019 8:15 AM

An angry California Gov. Gavin Newsom slammed the state's largest utility over its power shutoffs, saying they're the result of years of mismanagement and greed.

Pacific Gas & Electric intentionally cut power to almost 800,000 customers in Northern California on Wednesday to prevent wildfires caused by high winds downing live power equipment -- a process the utility had warned they'd be more aggressive about this year. While the company has since restored power for many affected areas, more than 300,000 remain without electricity.

'This is not ... a climate change story as much as a story about greed and mismanagement over the course of decades,' Newsom said. 'Neglect, a desire to advance not public safety but profits.'

The same winds will affect Southern California, too

Meanwhile, the same powerful winds are moving into Southern California, where a local utility company has started turning off the lights for thousands of people. Southern California Edison cut power to almost 24,000 customers as winds picked up in the region Thursday.

'The highest we've seen so far is 64 miles per hour in Warm Springs in the mountains of LA County,' said Keily Delerme, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service. 'The most concerning thing is the combination of the winds and dry conditions.'

Some school districts have canceled classes Thursday and Friday.

More than a quarter million still without power

In Northern California, the power is trickling back on.

More than half of the customers affected had power back by end of Thursday, PG&E said. About 426,000 of a total 738,000 customers have had their power restored. So far, 312,000 remain without power.

And the financial impact has been devastating. San Jose city said it lost at least half a million dollars and the number is expected to go up. The estimate includes supplies and fuel costs for generators, Deputy City Manager Kip Harkness said.

Mayor Sam Liccardo said they expect some compensation from PG&E for the public cost.

Tod Pickett, who operates a sports memorabilia shop in Placerville, estimated he's lost thousands of dollars.

'When the wind blows we have to turn the power off,' Pickett said. 'It's crazy ... people are losing food, people are losing revenue for not being able to work.'

Critics say PG&E is getting away with inconveniencing its customers and costing businesses instead of upgrading its infrastructure to prevent fires.

Improved weather conditions

But the end of the misery may be near in Northern California.

Weather conditions are getting better, and the utility said it'll start its safety inspections and repairs in some areas, a first step to restoring power. The company said while it has about 6,300 personnel ready to start inspections, it could take several days to restore power to everyone.

The PG&E blackout region stretches from south of San Jose to areas north of Eureka, and utility officials said they plan to inspect 25,000 miles of power lines before they turn everything back on.

Ultimately, if the power is off for two days, it could cost up to $2.6 billion, according to Michael Wara, the director of the Climate and Energy Policy Program at Stanford University's Woods Institute.

'This is very disruptive to people's lives and businesses to not have electric power. An economy as large as California's, when you black out a significant fraction of the state, there are going to be large economic impacts.'

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 348766

Reported Deaths: 4161
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah54797689
Washington37988313
Marion36055444
Clackamas29094304
Lane26966298
Jackson22632300
Deschutes19577123
Umatilla14241144
Linn12380120
Douglas11795240
Josephine9233195
Yamhill8517110
Klamath7709110
Polk715380
Malheur551574
Benton529130
Coos489691
Columbia371343
Jefferson361450
Union313146
Lincoln310638
Wasco281540
Crook274745
Clatsop239529
Baker198028
Tillamook193328
Hood River188337
Morrow181623
Curry178122
Harney108424
Grant97612
Lake89011
Wallowa67012
Gilliam1484
Sherman1463
Wheeler991
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4810682

Reported Deaths: 70604
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles147569426398
Riverside3693444990
San Diego3641044163
San Bernardino3563155566
Orange3227415518
Sacramento1576212279
Santa Clara1445181890
Kern1441461605
Fresno1441232051
Alameda1198871374
San Joaquin1018071708
Ventura1005241164
Contra Costa99234982
Stanislaus851571315
Tulare78945951
San Francisco54031645
San Mateo53828622
Monterey50696582
Solano45761334
Santa Barbara44836521
Merced41781577
Sonoma40711402
Placer38902415
Imperial35642764
Kings32369314
San Luis Obispo29653329
Madera23518281
Butte23364260
Shasta23360334
Santa Cruz20861218
Yolo20147247
Marin17581243
El Dorado16960149
Sutter13775169
Napa12808100
Yuba994282
Tehama9298104
Humboldt9102108
Nevada903990
Mendocino752786
Lassen746346
San Benito737372
Tuolumne673993
Lake6506104
Amador537264
Siskiyou442742
Glenn430330
Calaveras381780
Del Norte356141
Colusa301718
Inyo196739
Mono16445
Plumas15756
Mariposa127315
Trinity86011
Modoc6698
Unassigned1860
Sierra1760
Alpine1020
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