The Latest: PG&E says system had 100 incidents of damage
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on California power shutoffs to prevent wildfires (all times local):
Pacific Gas & Electric says inspections have found more than 100 places where its system was damaged by recent strong winds that prompted last week’s deliberate power cut to northern and central California.
PG&E says the damage included downed power lines and trees that hit lines. The utility says any one of those problems could potentially have sparked a wildfire — the issue that prompted the precautionary shutdown. It also says wind gusts hit 77 mph in Sonoma County and 50 mph or more in many other counties.
The shutdown that began last Wednesday lasted two days and affected an estimated 2.1 million people.
The disruption prompted anger and accusations that PG&E hadn’t done enough to weather-proof its system.
Gov. Gavin Newsom is asking the utility to pay customers who lost power.
Gov. Gavin Newsom is asking Pacific Gas & Electric Co., to pay the customers who lost power last week when the state’s largest utility cut electricity to prevent wildfires.
The Democratic governor sent a letter Monday asking PG&E chief executive Bill Johnson to provide a bill credit or rebate worth $100 for residential customers and $250 for small businesses.
Newsom says the shutoffs affected too many customers for too long, and it’s clear PG&E implemented them “with astounding neglect and lack of preparation.” He says that before the shutoff PG&E executives rejected offers of help from state and local emergency managers.
PG&E officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The shutoff affected about 2 million people in 35 counties.
Millions of Californians spent part of the week in the dark in an unprecedented effort by the state’s large electrical utilities to prevent another devastating wildfire.
It was the fifth time Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has pre-emptively cut the power but by far the largest to date in the utility’s effort to prevent a deadly wildfire sparked by its power lines.
But do the power shut-offs actually prevent fires?
Experts say it’s hard to know what might have happened had the power stayed on, or if the utility’s proactive shutoffs are to thank for California’s mild fire season this year.
PG&E said in a statement that employees located 23 spots where parts of its systems were damaged during the strong winds, but officials have declined to provide details.