US: PG&E warns of power shutoffs to lower wildfire risks - - PressFrom - US

USPG&E warns of power shutoffs to lower wildfire risks

07:00  08 june  2019
07:00  08 june  2019 Source:

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Last month PG & E cut off electric power to about 60,000 customers to prevent wildfires as high winds threatened to topple trees and power lines. Searchers looking for the remains of victims in the charred ruins of Paradise were set to expand their operation on Wednesday as firefighters stepped up efforts

PG & E is under intense scrutiny for its role in sparking more than a dozen wildfires over the past two years. It filed bankruptcy last month, citing “The fact that there is such a dramatic expansion of power shutoffs as a strategy to stop wildfires is a sign of PG & E ’s failure and mismanagement when it

PG&E warns of power shutoffs to lower wildfire risks© The Associated Press FILE - In this Jan. 14, 2019, file photo, Pacific Gas & Electric vehicles are parked at the PG&E Oakland Service Center in Oakland, Calif. The year's first fire danger warning in Northern California is putting Pacific Gas & Electric on alert. The utility said starting Saturday, June 8, 2019, it might turn off power to thousands of customers in areas north of San Francisco and in the Sierra foothills to help reduce the risk of fire. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

SAN FRANCISCO — Pacific Gas & Electric warned Friday it might turn off electricity to thousands of customers in Northern California this weekend to reduce the risk of wildfires like the one sparked by power lines last year that killed 85 people and wiped out nearly 15,000 homes in Paradise.

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Californians are being warned to prepare for power shutoffs due to wildfire risks . Residents will not get much warning prior to shutoffs . PG & E ’s vice president of electric operations These include high winds (including Red Flag Warnings declared by the National Weather Service), low humidity

PG & E Cuts Power In Nor Cal Counties As High Winds Raise Risk Of Wildfire . In June, Cal Fire announced that the utility’s “ electric power and distribution lines, conductors and the failure of power poles”, caused at least a dozen wildfires in six Northern California counties Power shutoffs such as

The warning came as forecasters issued the year's first red flag warning of high fire danger in portions of the Central Valley and areas north of San Francisco starting early Saturday.

The National Weather Service said strong winds, low humidity and warm temperatures could raise the risk of wildfires.

The nation's largest utility said it might shut off electricity in several counties in the North Bay and Sierra Nevada foothills, areas where the state's most devastating wildfires occurred the past two years.

"We know how much our customers rely on electric service and would only consider temporarily turning off power in the interest of safety during extreme weather conditions," Michael Lewis, PG&E's senior vice president of electric operations, said in a statement.

Utility blamed for wildfires cutting power to some customers to reduce risk

Utility blamed for wildfires cutting power to some customers to reduce risk "Our decision tonight to turn off power is to protect our communities experiencing extreme fire danger," a Pacific Gas and Electric official said.

A Pacific Gas and Electric Co. executive indicated Friday the utility may expand its policies around cutting power to prevent wildfires to include 4of7 Power shutoffs to prevent fires are controversial because of the impact on residents and businesses, like the Calistoga Smoke Shop during a PG & E

Pacific Gas & Electric could shut off power to more than 5 million customers when extreme The company told the state's public utilities commission that to address wildfire risk , "shutting off power PG & E said it would try to alert customers within 48 hours of a power shutoff . PG & E will only turn off

After PG&E power lines and equipment were blamed for previous fires, the utility has been under enormous pressure to avoid another deadly blaze.

Facing lawsuits from insurance companies and wildfire victims, the company filed for bankruptcy protection and replaced many of its top leaders.

The utility said it considers several factors when determining if power should be turned off for safety. They include periods of excessive winds and low humidity when vegetation is dried out and can easily ignite.

State fire officials said grass and shrub in the valley and foothills have dried despite an unusually rainy spring.

"The moisture stayed with us through May, but it dries out quickly due to our Mediterranean climate," said Scott McLean, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The warning is in effect until 5 p.m. Sunday.

Once power is shut off, PG&E said its crews will inspect every de-energized line before they restore power, a process that can keep the lights out for days even after conditions improve.

The precautionary outages could inconvenience hundreds of thousands of customers while endangering some who depend on electricity.

Last week, state regulators approved allowing utilities to cut off electricity when fire risk is extremely high. The California Public Utilities Commission said utilities must do a better job educating and notifying the public, particularly those with disabilities and others who are vulnerable, and ramp up preventive efforts, such as clearing brush and installing fire-resistant poles.

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