Oct 15, 2019

California officials are unhappy with PG&E's power shutoffs

Ben Geman, author of Generate

A sign calling PG&E to turn the power back on. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

California regulators and the state's governor are not happy — at all — with how PG&E executed its power shutoffs last week aimed at preventing wildfires.

Why it matters: The pre-emptive shutdowns affected roughly 2 million people and show how power companies will need to confront risks heightened by climate change.

Driving the news: The California Public Utilities Commission CPUC yesterday ordered PG&E to take a series of "corrective actions."

  • “Failures in execution, combined with the magnitude of this [Public Safety Power Shut-off] event, created an unacceptable situation that should never be repeated,” CPUC president Marybel Batjer said in a letter to the company.

What's next: The wide-ranging letter demands steps aimed at better communications (such as ensuring its website doesn't crash again); faster power restoration after such events; better information sharing with local governments; more transparent decision-making, providing better maps showing the boundaries of outages, and a lot more.

Meanwhile, per The Los Angeles Times ...

  • "Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday urged Pacific Gas & Electric to provide $100 rebates to residential customers affected by last week’s unprecedented power shut-offs, asserting that the company’s communication failures 'put lives at risk.'"

Go deeper: PG&E outages could cost California more than $2 billion

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