After cutting power to more than 500,000 people Wednesday, Pacific Gas and Electric announced Thursday afternoon it's ready to inspect lines in nearly all the counties affected by the shutoff.
But the utility also warned that continued dry and windy weather this weekend could again increase the chance its equipment could cause wildfires, and that more shut offs were possible.
The most recent planned outage spanned 15 counties, mostly in the Sierra foothills but also parts of the North Bay and in Kern County. The utility began cutting power early Wednesday morning. It expects to have power back to most customers by Friday night.
Backlash against the utility for the shutoffs continued Thursday as Gov. Gavin Newsom said PG&E and Southern California Edison needed to step up efforts to secure power lines as the climate changes.
The governor says utilities need to be held accountable for the costs incurred by customers who lose money as a result of these power outages.
"It's about dog-eat-dog capitalism meeting climate change. It's about corporate greed meeting climate change," Newsom said. "It's about decades of mismanagement, it's about focusing on shareholders and dividends over you and members of the public. It's a story about greed and they need to be held accountable."
He says should the companies choose not to reimburse customers, the California Public Utilities Commission has the authority to demand they do.
PG&E CEO Bill Johnson pushed back against those allegations this week, saying the amount of land in its coverage area considered at high-risk for wildfire has increased in recent years.
"These events for us, they don't have anything to do with the quality of our system, with the vegetation management, they are pure weather related, blowing stuff out of the forest into our lines," Johnson said. "That's really what the story is."
PG&E began a policy of cutting power to prevent fires in October of last year, one month before the Camp Fire killed 84 people in Butte County. That fire has since been blamed on PG&E equipment, which the utility decided not to shut off in the hours preceding it.
The National Weather Service is forecasting another round of dry windy weather Saturday through Sunday morning.
🚩 High Wind Watch in effect from Saturday evening through Sunday evening. Local gusts up to 60 mph are possible. Downed trees, power outages and difficult driving conditions can be expected. #cawx pic.twitter.com/RuSqy9S6fQ— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) October 24, 2019
PG&E has warned this week that outages could be possible this weekend, but has not yet announced they will shut off power. They cautioned anyone affected by this shutoff may also be included in new shutoffs this weekend.
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