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US These 3 men decide when PG&E shuts off power to millions

23:05  20 october  2019
23:05  20 october  2019 Source:   sfgate.com

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Infuriated Californians who lost power in PG & E 's wildfire safety shut -offs earlier this month have been wondering: Who exactly made the final call to cut power ? The report indicated that the three men are Michael Lewis, senior vice president of electric operations, Sumeet Singh, vice president of asset

Pacific Gas & Electric said it will shut off power Saturday to about 1,600 customers in Northern The company said it could decide to cut power to 30,000 customers in Butte, Yuba, Nevada, El Once power is shut off , PG & E said its crews will inspect every de-energized line before they restore

Infuriated Californians who lost power in PG&E's wildfire safety shut-offs earlier this month have been wondering: Who exactly made the final call to cut power?

The three names were revealed in a filing made to California utility regulators Thursday. The report indicated that the three men are Michael Lewis, senior vice president of electric operations, Sumeet Singh, vice president of asset and risk management, and Ahmad Ababneh, vice president of electric operations on major projects and programs.

According to the report, Ababneh, Lewis and Singh ultimately made the decision to preemptively cut power when they deemed the combination of PG&E's electrical wires and wildfire weather conditions were dangerously unsafe. Almost 800,000 Northern and Central California customers lost power, some for days, beginning on Oct. 8. In 2020, Bloomberg reports, two more vice presidents will join PG&E.

And lest you believe the shut-off scenario won't present itself again, PG&E CEO Bill Johnson told a California Public Utilities Commission meeting on Friday that shut-offs may continue throughout the next decade. Johnson admitted it may take 10 years before PG&E updates and repairs its systems so that outages are "really ratcheted down significantly."

The message was not well-received.

“This is not hard. You guys have failed on so many levels on pretty simple stuff. You need to get there now. Not at the end of the year. Now," California Public Utility Commission President Marybel Batjer said.

Johnson has defended the shut-off, arguing it was necessary due to high winds, not PG&E's poor infrastructure.

ALSOHow to get PG&E to send you a text alert ahead of a power shutoff

"One of the things that stands out in my mind is that we did not have any catastrophic fires in Northern and Central California. It’s hard to prove a negative," Johnson told the CPUC.

Dry, warm, blustery weather is expected to return to the Bay Area next week, increasing the risk of wildfire danger and sounding alarm bells in a month when windy weather has already prompted Pacific Gas and Electric to turn off power.

The National Weather Service issued a "high confidence" forecast for unseasonably warm temperatures and northerly winds in the first half of next week, beginning Monday and running through Thursday.

"Several days of offshore flow combined with decreasing overnight humidity recoveries will create critical fire weather concerns," the NWS said in a statement.

PG&E issued a forecast on Friday saying the utility doesn't anticipate any preemptive shut-offs in the next week, but will be monitoring the situation closely for escalation.

SFGATE reporter Amy Graff contributed to this report.

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