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PG&E says 600000 customers remain in the dark

PG&E says 600000 customers remain in the dark

The shutdown also "shows that PG&E, the public utilities commission and regulators have not really worked to figure out strategies to mitigate the potential of wildfire driven by our electricity infrastructure", Pincetl said.

Electricity was shut off to almost 750,000 California homes and workplaces on Wednesday as Pacific Gas and Electric Co (PG&E) imposed a string of planned power outages of unprecedented scale to reduce wildfire risks posed by extremely windy, dry weather.

Firefighters work to contain a wildfire burning off Merrill Dr.in Moraga, Calif., Oct. 10, 2019.

Because of the risky weather in the forecast, PG&E cut power Wednesday to an estimated 2 million people in an area that spanned the San Francisco Bay Area, the wine country north of San Francisco, the agricultural Central Valley and the Sierra Nevada foothills.

The NWS forecasts wind gusts from 45 to 65 miles per hour across some parts of the area, saying the wind, coupled with low humidity and dry terrain, "will create critical fire weather conditions" for much of Thursday. State Sen. Scott Weiner estimated that 2.5 million people could be impacted.

A second phase began at 3 p.m.

Approximately 233,000 customers in parts of nine counties in Southern California are also under the PSPS consideration, according to the company.

Southern California utilities had been hesitating to shut down electric grids on a massive scale in an effort to stem a customer backlash.

PG&E said earlier that "for restoration to begin, crews must inspect affected equipment to ensure no damage has occurred". The city of San Francisco and Silicon Valley are expected to be spared. Power first went out to around 500,000 customers on Wednesday, with an additional 250,000 losing power later that night.

More news: Did Elizabeth Warren lose a job because she was pregnant?

PG&E CEO Bill Johnson didn't respond to Newsom's criticisms but promised if future wind events require similar shutoffs, the utility will "do better" when it comes to communicating with customers.

A third phase is being considered for the southernmost portions of PG&E's service area, impacting approximately 42,000 customers.

Since PG&E was determined to be the root cause, "the burden of those liability claims, coupled with the state legislature [which] determined [PG&E] could not raise rates to pay for those, they couldn't use rate payer money to pay for those fire-related claims, they would have to use shareholder money", said Catherine Wolfram, who is a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and an expert on energy policy with the campus' Energy Institute.

"This is not a decision that we take lightly", he said.

It is still unclear how long some residents might have to live without power.

The company announced on Thursday that it had started to restore power to about 126,000 customers as weather conditions improved.

Some of the state's most devastating wildfires were sparked in recent years by damage to electrical transmission lines from high winds, with flames then spreading through tinder-dry vegetation to populated areas.

In Santa Rosa, a California wine country town where entire subdivisions were destroyed by a deadly 2017 wildfire, restaurateurs Mark and Terri Stark said they had to close one of their six restaurants after it lost power.


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