Wildfire season could bring more power outages, says PG&E

The bankrupt company says it will warn residents of preventative blackouts two days in advance of them

PG&E CEO William Johnson (Credit: PG&E and iStock)
PG&E CEO William Johnson (Credit: PG&E and iStock)

As companies prepare for this year’s wildfire season, which starts next month, one bankrupt utility giant has come up with a creative yet alarming plan of attack.

PG&E Corp. said it is exploring a plan to cut power in certain areas where high winds could tear transmission lines down, according to a report from Bloomberg. The firm has said it is “probable” its own equipment caused last year’s deadly Camp Fire.

The largest utility company in the state warned city officials in Napa Valley city Calistoga that it could potentially shut down service as many as 15 times in the season, which runs through December. It also plans on setting up “resiliency centers” with backup generators.

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If a shutdown were to occur, PG&E would give at least two days warning. Customers could be out of power for as many as five days.

Some homeowners are turning to other solutions as a precaution, installing solar panels and other home battery systems in case of an outage.

PG&E has been hit with several lawsuits over last year’s wildfires. The firm filed for bankruptcy protection in January to protect it from liability of up to $30 billion.

November’s Camp Fire killed 85 people and destroyed 21,000 homes across six counties in Northern California. In Southern California, the destruction from the Woolsey Fire is now estimated at around $5 billion, much of that in damage to homes and other private property. [Bloomberg] – Natalie Hoberman