Oct 10, 2019

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

Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

PG&E's decision to turn the power off for nearly 2.7 million people as a precautionary measure to prevent California wildfires could cost the state as much as $2.5 billion, CNBC reports.

What's happening: The total will depend on whether the economic impact is solely based on residential customers, estimated at $65 million, or if commercial and industrial costs will be factored in, Michael Wara of the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment says.

Per CNBC: "The dollar impact could be much higher if power isn’t restored in a timely fashion."

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Ben Geman: There are no other good options here. In this case, trying to prevent catastrophic fires is expensive in a system plagued by an aging and vulnerable infrastructure.

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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 utility says intentional blackouts could be needed for 10 years

Owners of the New Bait Shop and Davey Jones Market talk to a customer in front of their store on Oct. 10, 2019 in Sausalito, California. Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

PG&E's CEO Bill Johnson said Friday that it could be a decade before the company has made enough improvements to its electric infrastructure to prevent widespread pre-emptive blackouts, the Wall Street Journal reports.

What he's saying: “I think they’ll decrease in size and scope every year,” he said. “But at the same time we’re doing this the risk is not static, it’s dynamic and it goes up every year.”

Go deeperArrowOct 19, 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.

Go deeperArrowOct 26, 2019