Oct 31, 2019

PG&E returns power to most California customers, but thousands remain in the dark

Restaurant owners use candles and a flashlight in Sonoma, California, Oct. 9. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small/AFP via Getty Images

PG&E said Thursday it restored power to nearly 328,255 customers since the Oct. 29 weather "all clear" was given for areas in northern and central California, though 36,745 customers remain without power.

The big picture: PG&E faces an investigation by the California Public Utilities Commission over its series of power shutoffs, which have affected millions and aimed to prevent the spread of wildfires during high-wind periods and dry spells. There are currently 15 fires spreading throughout California, per the Los Angeles Times.

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom recently said California would hold PG&E accountable for failing to do its job in the wake of fires burning through the state. At least 2,000 people evacuated from fires in darkness following pre-planned PG&E blackouts.
  • 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 — still the largest blaze in California — or where it began. An investigation into its origin 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.

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

Go deeper: California to open investigation into PG&E for power shutoffs

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California's growing local push to overhaul PG&E

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Nearly two dozen California mayors and county leaders — including San Jose and Sacramento — are pressing state regulators to help them transform the embattled, bankrupt power giant PG&E into a customer-owned cooperative.

Why it matters: Their new letter to the California Public Utilities Commission shows how PG&E's power shutdowns amid wildfire risk and overall performance are prompting calls for a seismic re-think of its structure.

Go deeperArrowNov 6, 2019

PG&E bankruptcy judge sides with fire victims in liability challenge

Streaks of lights from vehicles drive along highway 24 during an Oct. 10 PG&E power shutoff in Oakland, Calif. Photo: Ray Chavez/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

PG&E lost a challenge Wednesday to a California law holding it liable for billions of dollars in wildfire damage connected to its equipment, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: The ruling in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Francisco by Judge Dennis Montali is a victory for victims of the state's 2017 and 2018 wildfires, who are hoping to be awarded damages for their affected properties in the utility’s bankruptcy.

Go deeperArrowNov 28, 2019

California governor threatens state takeover of PG&E

California Gov. Gavin Newsome, L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin, and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on Oct. 29 in Brentwood, Calif. Photo: Wally Skalij-Pool via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Friday that his administration is preparing a plan to take over PG&E should it fail to resolve its ongoing bankruptcy proceedings.

Why it matters: The embattled utility company is currently in bankruptcy court over its liability for fires that took place in 2017. At the same time, the company is dealing with the ongoing fire season in California and the added disruption to residents that widespread power shutoffs in October have caused.

Go deeper: Gov. Gavin Newsom Outlines Roadmap for Wildfires, Communities and Utility