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Major Utility Provider Cuts Thousands Of Customers’ Power To Prevent Wildfires From Breaking Out

A major utility provider cut power in certain areas of California on Tuesday morning to address wildfire risks.

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) warned Monday that it may shut off power in parts of Northern California and the San Francisco Bay area on Tuesday if weather conditions warrant. The utility company announced Tuesday morning that it cut power to approximately 2,000 customers to protect against wildfire risks, which are elevated in dry, gusty and hot conditions.

“Early Tuesday morning, PG&E shut off power for safety for approximately 2,000 customers across small portions of eight counties and one tribal community,” the company said in a Tuesday morning notice. “These customers had previously been informed of a potential [Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS)] event.”

The company contacted customers who may be affected in advance of any potential power shut offs.

“Due to favorable weather conditions, PG&E has delayed the start of the planned PSPS event for approximately 10,000 additional customers — mostly in Glenn and Shasta counties,” the company said in the Tuesday morning notice. “PG&E is continually monitoring weather conditions and will update those customers on the status of the PSPS event for their area.”

California will see high temperatures Tuesday and Wednesday, with thermometers likely to reach into the triple digits in some areas. PG&E said Monday. The company is concerned that higher temperatures could overheat power infrastructure that is already under more strain from elevated use attributable to people trying to stay cool, and that these conditions could pose a wildfire risk when combined with dry and windy weather.

At present, a major wildfire is burning in the Sierra Nevada foothills in the Fresno area, The Mercury News reported Monday.

Wildfires have cost PG&E dearly in the past. The company had to file for bankruptcy in 2019 after being sued and fined in relation to wildfires that its equipment sparked.

More recently, downed utility lines and weather conditions set the stage for the Maui fires of August 2023, which claimed more than 100 lives and were likely made worse by several befuddling decisions from elected and unelected officials.

Beyond involvement in wildfires, California’s power grid has also drawn national attention for the high electricity prices consumers face; the state had the highest residential and commercial electricity prices of any of the contiguous states in April, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Energy sector experts have attributed these costs in part to California’s expansive regulatory regime and its commitment to generating 100% of its electricity from green sources by 2045.

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