Oct 26, 2019

California lawmakers have little control over PG&E blackouts

Gov. Gavin Newsom surveys a home destroyed in the Kincade fire on Oct. 25. Photo: Karl Mondon/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

PG&E, which has temporarily shut the power off for millions of Californians ahead of weather forecasts ripe for wildfires, refused to give rebates to customers affected by the lack of electricity, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Why it matters: Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday that California would hold PG&E accountable for failing to do its job in the wake of fires burning through the state. But PG&E is ultimately calling the shots, per the Times. California lawmakers are out of session until January. Without a special legislative session, the issue won't be addressed until then.

  • "Millions of Californians can do little more than watch as the lights go off, then on and maybe back off again during the blustery autumn of 2019," the Times reports.
  • PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said in response to Newsom's statement that it's too soon to know the cause of the Kincade fire — currently the largest in California — or where it started.
  • An investigation is ongoing, per CNN.

Background: Johnson said it could be a decade before the company has made enough improvements to its electric infrastructure to prevent pre-emptive blackouts, which aim to prevent wildfires during high-wind periods and dry spells.

  • PG&E was deemed responsible for causing California's deadliest fire, which took 85 lives and burned thousands of homes and businesses in 2018.

Go deeper: California's multiplying wildfires

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World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Countries where novel coronavirus cases are falling may be hit with a "second peak" if they relax restrictions too soon, World Health Organization emergencies chief Mike Ryan warned during a briefing Monday. "We're still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up," he added.

By the numbers: Brazil on Monday recorded for the first time more deaths from the novel coronavirus in a single day than the United States, Reuters notes. Brazil reported 807 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, compared to 620 in the U.S. for the same period.

Palantir CEO reflects on work with ICE

Palantir CEO Alex Karp told "Axios on HBO" that there have "absolutely" been moments he wished the company hadn't taken a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

  • "Did I suffer? ... I've had some of my favorite employees leave," Karp told "Axios on HBO."

Michigan governor won't apologize for coronavirus lockdown

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defended the strictness of her state's coronavirus lockdown in an interview with "Axios on HBO," saying it was necessary — despite the protests that have drawn national attention — because of how quickly the state's cases were rising.

The big picture: Whitmer, who has been a frequent target of President Trump, insisted that she had to act in the face of a lack of federal leadership — and that thousands more people in her state would have died without the lockdown.