California Power Cutoff Begin as Wildfire Risks Rise

FILE PHOTO: PG&E crew work on power lines to repair damage caused by the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: PG&E crew work on power lines to repair damage caused by the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage/File Photo

Hundreds of thousands of California homes and businesses started to lose electric power early Wednesday as part of an unprecedented effort by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to prevent wildfires, the utility said.

Nearly 800,000 northern and central California homes and businesses can expect to lose electricity for up to several days, starting on Wednesday, PG&E said.

State investigators determined in May that PG&E transmission lines had caused last year’s Camp Fire. That fire killed 85 people, making it the deadliest in California’s history.

The company had already filed for bankruptcy protection by then, citing potential liabilities of more than $30 billion from the Camp Fire and the 2017 North Bay Fires.

Conditions before the fires were about the same then as they are now in the region. Gale-force winds are expected to last through midday Thursday, with gusts up to 70 miles per hour, PG&E said. Humidity is low, leaving the air extremely dry.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said “red-flag” warnings were posted across the entire state for what was shaping up to be the strongest wind so far this season.

Consequently, PG&E said on Tuesday it was extending a previously announced “public safety power shutoff” to 34 counties, more than half of all the counties in California. It’s the largest such precautionary outage the utility has undertaken to date.

Once power is turned off, it cannot be restored until the winds subside, allowing the utility to inspect equipment for damage and make any repairs, PG&E said.

The first phase of the outages, affecting about 513,000 customers in northern California, began after midnight, PG&E said in an early morning release. Depending on the weather, additional outages will continue at noon, the company said.

“We’re telling customers to be prepared for an outage that could last several days,” PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian told Reuters.

SOME OBJECT

Some consumer advocates have objected to the precautionary disruptions, saying they can harm people who need electricity for medical equipment.

But PG&E promised to open community centers in 30 locations across the planned outage zone to furnish restrooms, bottled water, battery charging and air-conditioned seating during daytime hours.

Sarkissian said PG&E had placed 45 helicopter crews and 700 extra ground personnel on standby for inspections and repairs once the wind dies down. Some equipment locations will require workers to hike into remote or mountainous areas, she said.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; additional reporting Jim Christie in San Francisco and Rich McKay in Atlanta; editing by Larry King)

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Jeffrey Moore
Member

Screwtape, there are batteries made specifically for use with home solar installations, to get them completely off the grid. Since we already generate more electricity than we use in a year, such batteries would work well for us. Only reason we don’t have them already is they’re as expensive as the solar panels themselves.

Screwtape
Member

CA’s march towards 3rd-world country status continues.

If the PG&E execs were Machiavellian, they’d say this is why Sacramento should exempt them from lawsuits. (I’m doubtful about their role in wildfires as I’ve seen plenty of high-power/fiber-optics shot down by idiots).

As it is, CA’s renewable energy ambitions will now be tested. (BWAHAHA!)

Allen Zabel
Member

OMG. How are they going to recharge those electric cars?
Leftist agenda, turning California into a third world country.
Wait … what? More to come?
Let me grab my beer and popcorn.

Jeffrey Moore
Member

We have solar. If they cut off our power, I’m buying a battery to store the excess electricity for use at night.

Charles
Member

This is the result of nonsense lawsuits. I hope these Californians are happy being without power. CA is so screwed up as a state. The Democrats in control need to be purged and replaced with people that want to make CA better. The current officials are bent on giving away everything free while the state implodes, just to stay in power. Lying, cheating, corrupt Democrats.

Dave Hardesty
Member

California is just such a great and powerful state, ask any Leftist Californian, they don’t need electricity because the state does relatively nothing in the way of forest management and controlled burns. That being said they don’t need to buy out of state generated electricity. Come to think of it they don’t need water so they don’t need to import it from other states either. Isn’t California such a wonderful state? Look how well they take care of the homeless US Citizens there.and take care of the illegal aliens that take refuge there.

William
Member

Why don’t the people of Calif. blame those really responsible for their upcoming blackout. The politicians have outlawed all preparation and cutting of trees and brush because they might intrude on some rats, owls, groundhog or slugs living space. Which causes the fire hazards by not allowing the energy provider to cut safe routs for high voltage lines.

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