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PCG PR A - Pacific Gas And Electric Co News Story

$31 1.0  3.3%

Sector
Utilities
Size
Large Cap
Market Cap £5.70bn
Enterprise Value £31.80bn
Revenue £13.58bn
Position in Universe th / 6847

California power cutoff begin as wildfire risks rise

Wed 9th October, 2019 11:12am
By Steve Gorman
    Oct 9 (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of California homes
and businesses started to lose electric power early Wednesday as
part of an unprecedented effort by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
to prevent wildfires, the utility said.
    Nearly 800,000 northern and central California homes and
businesses can expect to lose electricity for up to several
days, starting on Wednesday, PG&E said.
    State investigators determined in May that PG&E transmission
lines had caused last year's Camp Fire. That fire killed 85
people, making it the deadliest in California's history
 urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL2N22R1TD.
    The company had already filed for bankruptcy protection by
then, citing potential liabilities of more than $30 billion from
the Camp Fire and the 2017 North Bay Fires  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL4N2544JO.
    Conditions before the fires were about the same then as they
are now in the region. Gale-force winds are expected to last
through midday Thursday, with gusts up to 70 miles per hour,
PG&E said. Humidity is low, leaving the air extremely dry.
    The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
(Cal Fire) said "red-flag" warnings were posted across the
entire state for what was shaping up to be the strongest wind so
far this season.
    Consequently, PG&E said on Tuesday it was extending a
previously announced "public safety power shutoff" to 34
counties, more than half of all the counties in California. It's
the largest such precautionary outage the utility has undertaken
to date.
    Once power is turned off, it cannot be restored until the
winds subside, allowing the utility to inspect equipment for
damage and make any repairs, PG&E said.
    The first phase of the outages, affecting about 513,000
customers in northern California, began after midnight, PG&E 
said in an early morning release. Depending on the weather,
additional outages will continue at noon, the company said.
    "We're telling customers to be prepared for an outage that
could last several days," PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian told
Reuters.
    
SOME OBJECT
Some consumer advocates have objected to the precautionary
disruptions, saying they can harm people who need electricity
for medical equipment  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N20201J.
    But PG&E promised to open community centers in 30 locations
across the planned outage zone to furnish restrooms, bottled
water, battery charging and air-conditioned seating during
daytime hours.
    Sarkissian said PG&E had placed 45 helicopter crews and 700
extra ground personnel on standby for inspections and repairs
once the wind dies down. Some equipment locations will require
workers to hike into remote or mountainous areas, she said.

 (Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; additional reporting
Jim Christie in San Francisco and Rich McKay in Atlanta; editing
by Larry King)
 ((rich.mckay@thomsonreuters.com;))
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