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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

UPDATE 1-California wildfire risk prompts planned mass cutoff of PG&E power

Wed 9th October, 2019 2:09am
(Adds wildfire warning details, high wind forecasts; byline)
    By Steve Gorman
    LOS ANGELES, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Nearly 800,000 California
homes and businesses can expect to lose electricity for up to
several days from Wednesday, in a planned PG&E power shutdown of
unprecedented scale due to heightened wildfire risks from high
winds, the utility said.
    Pacific Gas & Electric Co, a unit of PG&E Corp, said on
Tuesday it was extending a previously announced "public safety
power shutoff" to 34 counties in northern and central
California, marking the largest such precautionary outage the
utility has undertaken to date.
    Power will be turned off to communities in stages, starting
in northern California, just after 12:01 a.m. Wednesday,
depending on the timing of high-wind conditions locally, PG&E
said in a statement.
    Sustained gale-force winds were expected to last through
midday Thursday, with isolated gusts of up to 70 miles per hour,
the utility said. Once power is turned off, it cannot be
restored until winds subside, allowing PG&E to inspect equipment
for damage and make any repairs, it said.
    "We're telling customers to be prepared for an outage that
could last several days," PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian told
Reuters.
    PG&E has come under increased scrutiny in recent years over
maintenance of transmission wires and other equipment implicated
in a number of major wildfires.    
    In May, state fire investigators determined that PG&E
transmission lines caused the deadliest and most destructive
wildfire on record in California, the wind-driven Camp Fire that
killed 85 people in and around the town of Paradise last year.
    Cal Fire likewise concluded that PG&E power lines had
sparked a separate flurry of wildfires that swept California's
wine country north of San Francisco Bay in 2017.
    PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January 2019, citing potential
civil liabilities in excess of $30 billion from the North Bay
and Camp Fires.
    
    RED-FLAG WARNING
    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
event so far this season.
    The scope of the planned outage, extending to over half of
California's 58 counties, will far exceed the very first public
safety power shutoff declared by PG&E in October of last year,
which impacted 60,000 customers, Sarkissian said.
    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 latest 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 latest wind event is over. Some equipment locations
will require workers to hike into remote or mountainous areas
for lack of vehicle access, she said.

 (Reporting and writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles;
Additional reporting Jim Christie in San Francisco; Editing by
Bill Tarrant)
 ((steve.gorman@thomsonreuters.com; 213-955-6761; Reuters
Messaging: steve.gorman.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))
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