California regulator criticizes utility over power outages

California regulator criticizes utility over power outages”

The agency ordered a series of corrective actions, including a goal of restoring power within 12 hours, not the utility's current 48-hour goal. This as Newsom's state utility president Marybel Batjer called an emergency meeting Friday at the San Francisco headquarters of California Public Utilities Commission to hear from PG&E executives about the shutoff.

PG&E last week took the unprecedented step of cutting power to more than 700,000 customers, affecting almost 2 million Californians.

PG&E said it turned the power back on for some of the 513,000 customers in 22 counties who were left in the dark around midnight Wednesday for the company's first wave of outages due to a "widespread, severe wind event". "There's some vindication - that's not the right word", Johnson said late Friday, but the fact that the utility discovered so many safety issues that could have ignited a wildfire made the blackout well worth it, he said.

Its website frequently crashed, and many people said they did not receive enough warning that the power was going out.

"It is possible that any one of these instances could have been a potential source of ignition" for a wildfire if the outage hadn't taken effect, the statement said.

The shutdown that began last Wednesday lasted two days and affected an estimated 2.1 million people.

PG&E didn't immediately comment on the sanctions. Batjer, too, was on the receiving end with Newsom telling the utility chief that her body should "require PG&E to evaluate additional steps it can take to assists residents, small businesses and critical providers with safe back-up power options, including back-up power for medical devices to better withstand temporary outages".

"We've also identified areas where we could safely energize sections of our electrical system that were not in high fire threat zones and reconfiguring our system in different areas so it didn't have as large an impact as previously planned", PG&E spokesperson Brandi Merlo said in a statement.

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".

The company's massive power outage measure was the largest preventive action it has ever adopted in California's history.

PG&E made the decision to turn off customers' power because forecasts of dry, hot and windy weather, which up the risk of a rapidly spreading wildfire. He said he welcomes the PUC review.

The three-phase power shutoff will affect around 800,000 customers.

The blackout impacted many public services, schools and transportation across Northern and Central California, drawing complaints and criticism from state officials including Governor Gavin Newsom who blasted the company for its mismanagement of power equipment.

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