PG&E proactively cuts power to 1,600 due to red flag weather
Jun 11 2019
This weekend, one of California's largest utilities-Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)-elected to shut off power to customers in two counties as part of its newly-expanded "Public Safety Power Shutoff" plan.
The utility said it began cutting power at 6 a.m.to portions of Napa, Solano and Yolo counties, an area northeast of the San Francisco Bay region.
The area includes portions of Paradise town that was worst hit by a deadly wildfire known as Camp Fire in Northern California past year. PG&E shut off power for some communities earlier Saturday, but more blackouts were expected starting at 9 p.m. until the end of the peak period of fire risk at noon Sunday.
It killed 85 people and burned over 153 thousand acres.
PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January 2019 in connection with the catastrophic wildfires that occurred in Northern California in 2017 and 2018, with potential civil liabilities in excess of 30 billion dollars.
Low humidity and strong winds, with gusts as strong as 50 miles per hour, make for a critical fire threat, she said.
As climate change has made summers hotter and winter rain more unpredictable, PG&E's power lines sparked unsafe and destructive fires 2017 and 2018.
But there has been opposition from customers who rely on electrically powered life-support equipment as well as businesses that have had to shut down for lack of power.
California experienced a very wet winter and spring, and even vast areas that were scorched earth after last year's wildfires now have new head-high brush that is rapidly browning as summer approaches.
PG&E crews completed safety patrols, inspections and repairs of electric infrastructure in the impacted areas and restored power this evening. An evacuation order was issued for an unknown number of homes on a rural road.
"The moisture stayed with us through May, but it dries out quickly due to our Mediterranean climate", said Scott McLean, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Last week, state regulators approved allowing utilities to cut off electricity when fire risk is extremely high.