Electric power

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California power cuts could drive sales of gas-powered generators

A Home Depot employee pulls a generator on a cart
Photo: Michele Eve Sandberg/AFP/Getty Images

The risk of wildfires in California prompted what may be the largest deliberate power cut in U.S. history. The growing frequency of such precautions could incentivize residential and commercial customers to turn to on-site power generation.

Why it matters: Such a shift could mean a boon for solar energy systems, but also a comeback for gas-powered generators in areas bearing the brunt of extreme dry weather exacerbated by climate change.

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
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."