California Utility Slammed For Blackouts That Left Millions Without Power

PG&E Starts Second Round of Power Shutoffs as Blackout Spreads

The second phase of the Public Safety Power Shutoff will occur around 12:00pm on Wednesday afternoon, impacting service to approximately 234,000 customers in the following counties: Alameda, Alpine, Contra Costa, Mariposa, San Joaquin, San Mateo and Santa Clara.

On Wednesday, the state's main supplier of electricity, Pacific Gas & Electric, intentionally cut power to 500,000 customers in an attempt to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires due to the dry weather and windy conditions. "Neglect, a desire to advance not public safety but profits", Newsom said during a press conference. Utilities in the Los Angeles and San Diego area are also warning of service cuts.

He also faulted PG&E for putting what he called "greed" ahead of investments in its infrastructure to protect the electrical grid from risky winds. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January as it faced billions of dollars' worth of possible liabilities stemming from years of devastating fires in Northern California.

PG&E Chief Executive Bill Johnson acknowledged that his company had left "millions of people" without a "fundamental service" they expect and deserve. The new power cuts turned off the lights in parts of the San Francisco Bay area, but not in the city itself.

Residents, business owners and even public officials expressed frustration about the blackouts, which the utility began on a much smaller scale previous year during times of high fire risk. "It's unacceptable that the region is being forced to endure this level of disruption as the long-term strategy for dealing with the threat of wildfires". Some 126,000 customers had its power supply restored as of Thursday 9 a.m.


Pacific Gas & Electric is unable to say at this point how long the outages will last, but the company is telling people to make plans for living without electricity for up to five days.

"This is unprecedented in terms of what all of us are facing as a community", PG&E Vice President Sumeet Singh said at a media briefing Tuesday night. Based on the latest weather forecasts and models, PG&E anticipates that this weather event will last through midday Thursday, with peak winds forecasted from Wednesday morning through Thursday morning and reaching 60 to 70 miles per hour at higher elevations.

Much of northern California, from San Francisco to the OR border, remains under a state "red flag" fire alert, although no major blazes have been reported.

The firm said Thursday evening on Twitter it would start safety inspections with 6,300 field personnel and 45 helicopters standing at the ready as soon as gusty weather passes.

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