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California's largest utility has started shutting off power again to thousands of customers

California's largest utility started intentionally s...

Posted: Nov 20, 2019 3:29 AM
Updated: Nov 20, 2019 1:15 PM

California's largest utility started intentionally shutting off power to customers Wednesday to prevent its equipment from setting off fires.

The shut-offs began at 7 a.m. (10 a.m. ET) for about 50,000 customers in 10 northern California counties, said Katie Allen, a spokeswoman for Pacific Gas & Electric. Another 100,000 are on standby to lose their electricity Wednesday, she said.

PG&E said it expects high winds and dry conditions Wednesday as a storm bears down on the state, leading to increased risk of fire. The utility said earlier the shut-off would affect 18 counties.

'PG&E will safely restore power in stages as quickly as possible, with the goal of restoring the most customers by end of day Thursday, based on the current weather conditions,' the company said.

'Forecasts indicate the period of peak winds should end mid-morning on Thursday. Once the high winds subside, PG&E will inspect the de-energized lines to ensure they were not damaged during the wind event, and then restore power.'

The utility's meteorologists are monitoring and anticipate sustained winds of up to 25 mph and gusts ranging from 30-50 mph. Fire weather watches have been issued in the service area because vegetation is extremely dry and temperatures are 5-15 degrees above average, the company said Sunday.

The utility is under constant criticism for cutting power to thousands of people several times in recent weeks. The practice, known as Public Safety Power Shutoffs, is a preventive measure that intentionally cuts electricity to avoid causing fires during high winds and dry conditions.

PG&E has been criticized in recent years for the role its equipment was found to have played in a series of catastrophic fires across the state, including the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest in state history.

The Camp Fire killed 85 people and destroyed thousands of structures was started by electrical lines owned by PG&E. The company filed for bankruptcy in January as it came under pressure from billions of dollars in claims tied to deadly wildfires.

To avoid being blamed for another wildfire, some utilities have decided to cut power during high winds when the fire risk is elevated. In addition to PG&E, utility company Southern California Edison has also turned off power in the past in affected areas.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has said the state could take over the utility if it does not pull itself out of bankruptcy by the middle of next year.

'PG&E as we know it may or may not be able to figure this out. If they cannot, we are not going to sit around and be passive,' Newsom said. 'If Pacific Gas and Electric is unable to secure its own fate and future ... then the state will prepare itself as backup for a scenario where we do that job for them.'

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 390066

Reported Deaths: 5142
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60179836
Washington41910395
Marion39824506
Clackamas32722377
Lane30033354
Jackson24808357
Deschutes23460185
Umatilla15098180
Linn14610179
Douglas13323287
Josephine10134242
Yamhill9717142
Klamath9002145
Polk8162100
Benton608338
Malheur592086
Coos5600106
Columbia429255
Jefferson419366
Lincoln360752
Union338654
Crook332356
Wasco314946
Clatsop261235
Baker219133
Tillamook216345
Hood River211937
Morrow197125
Curry191039
Harney119532
Grant108515
Lake104216
Wallowa75413
Sherman1903
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5078594

Reported Deaths: 74367
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles152627227138
San Diego4050994325
Riverside3873955358
San Bernardino3742565958
Orange3341765710
Sacramento1682422428
Kern1575251791
Fresno1566772252
Santa Clara1519051920
Alameda1251221504
San Joaquin1075271834
Ventura1039691190
Contra Costa1036861046
Stanislaus914651415
Tulare860701095
San Francisco56866669
San Mateo56265629
Monterey52477626
Solano47644356
Santa Barbara47268549
Merced45052667
Sonoma43127412
Placer42120470
Imperial38446773
Kings35204364
San Luis Obispo31463358
Madera26180311
Shasta26082444
Butte25441313
Santa Cruz22209224
Yolo21547257
Marin18447249
El Dorado18294166
Sutter14559186
Napa13419104
Yuba1075689
Tehama10275130
Humboldt10143118
Nevada10014105
Mendocino856097
Lassen796256
San Benito780778
Tuolumne772390
Lake7039110
Amador577066
Siskiyou474555
Glenn456636
Calaveras441288
Del Norte375442
Colusa325319
Inyo256846
Plumas19367
Mono18604
Mariposa159818
Trinity99617
Modoc7655
Unassigned2700
Sierra2180
Alpine1080
Out of CA00
Medford
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Hi: 56° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 44°
Brookings
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 45°
Crater Lake
Mostly Cloudy
44° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 29°
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Grants Pass
Cloudy
44° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 44°
Klamath Falls
Mostly Cloudy
26° wxIcon
Hi: 52° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 26°
Stagnant and dry weather continue all week
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