Oct 29, 2019

California to open investigation into PG&E for power shutoffs

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

The California Public Utilities Commission announced Monday it will open an investigation into a series of power shutoffs by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) that were meant to curtail wildfires.

Where it stands: PG&E began to cut power to more than 2 million people over the weekend in an attempt to prevent further fires. The Commission says it will examine how public safety power shutoffs are conducted in the future and seek to "drive down risks of ignitions from utility infrastructure, risks that result from power loss, and the disruption to communities and commerce."

  • Backers of the investigation argue utilities can be too reliant on using shutoffs that impede on citizens' lives.
  • The company said Monday that it has begun restorations, with approximately 30,000 customers getting power back Sunday evening.

What they're saying: "The state cannot continue to experience [public safety power shut-off] events on the scope and scale Californians have experienced this month, nor should Californians be subject to the poor execution that PG&E in particular has exhibited,"Commission President Marybel Batjer said in a statement.

What to watch: PG&E has warned of more shutoffs Tuesday, amid forecasts of high winds.

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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.

Go deeperArrowOct 31, 2019

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

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