PG&E cuts power to avoid possibility of wildfires

23 October 2019

California’s largest power utility cut power to hundreds of thousands of its customers in early October to reduce the risk of wildfires.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) implemented its ‘Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS)’ protocols on 9 October, cutting supplies to around 738 000 customers in 34 counties across northern California.

It made the move in response to dry, windy weather conditions and the corresponding elevated fire risk across its service territory.

It began to restore supplies on October 10 and said that all customers were back on-line two days later.

“We took this step to ensure safety as a last resort, and we are committed to reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire events,” Sumeet Singh, vice president of PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Programme, said.

PG&E said that the shut-off would ensure that any power lines damaged by the high winds would not cause or contribute to wild fires such as those seen across California last year. It added that it had found 50 instances of weather-related damages to its system, including downed lines and vegetation on power lines.

PG&E filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2019 after it emerged that its equipment could have been the cause of the worst wildfire in California’s history.

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