Power cut to millions as California faces heightened wildfire risks


Pacific Gas & Electric reached an $11 billion settlement to cover claims for the California wildfires after the utility declared bankruptcy due to the lawsuits. A PG&E meteorologist said that wind in portions of the Redding area hit 50 miles per hour today.

Two California utilities said they may cut power to more than 900,000 customers for days starting after midnight Wednesday morning because of dry winds that could down power lines and cause fires.

Earlier this year, PG&E alerted the public and regulatory authorities that it may implement "public safety power shutoff" scenarios at times of "extreme weather or wildfire conditions", reads the PG&E website dedicated to public information about the program.

As a precautionary measure to reduce wildfire risk during the forecasted severe wind event, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) confirmed that it will implement a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) in portions of 34 northern, central and coastal counties, affecting electric service for almost 800,000 customers. But they said there were still high winds in some areas. However, not everyone is happy with the power company's decision. Utility crews won't be able to inspect any power lines that might be damaged and restore electricity until after the severe weather has passed.

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Customers were urged to stock up on flashlights, fresh batteries, first-aid supplies and cash, and to plan for healthcare needs requiring refrigerated medications or electrical devices.

The NorCal shutoff comes as San Diego Gas & Electric warned some 30,000 customers in high fire-risk areas Tuesday that they could be impacted by a round of power shutoffs in Southern California.

Around 234,000 customers were expected to lose power in the second wave, Saramento's KCRA-TV reported.

Self said she was not upset by the outages, given the lives lost in Paradise, where people were burned in their cars trying to escape.

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It proposed replacing bare overhead high-voltage wires with insulation to help prevent power lines sparking fires, replacing wood poles with less flammable material and possibly moving some overhead power lines underground, which PG&E has estimated would cost $3 million per mile.

The south of California may also face outages in coming days, with the Southern California Edison provider warning that it might cut power to almost 174,000 customers in nine counties, including Los Angeles.

More than half of the state's 58 counties are dealing with power outages, which are expected to last through Thursday afternoon.

Retirees John and Greta Maltbie say they prepared for a widespread power blackout meant to prevent wildfires in California by buying bottled water, getting cash and filling their auto with gas. It says it will determine a time and the specific locations later Wednesday. Southern California Edison incident commander Terry Ohanian said he's been with the company for over 35 years and they have never attempted a preemptive shut down like this before. PG&E is the sole provider of gas and electricity for much of Northern California, and so the vast majority of consumers in the region do not have an alternative source of power.

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