AP NEWS REPORT:
A wildfire in California wine country that may have been caused by a high-voltage transmission line called into question Pacific Gas & Electric’s strategy of selectively cutting off power in windy weather to prevent blazes and could force it to resort to even bigger blackouts affecting millions as early as this weekend.
The repeated shut-offs and the prospect of longer and more widespread ones brought anger down on the utility from the governor and ordinary customers.
“We will hold them to account,” warned Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has repeatedly blasted PG&E — the nation’s largest utility — for what he calls years of mismanagement and underinvestment that have left its grid less resilient.
On Friday, fires in Santa Clarita stretched across 4,300 acres, had destroyed at least six homes and were 5 percent contained. In Northern California, firefighters continued to battle the Kincade blaze, which has burned more than 23,000 acres and persists even as residents prepared for another widespread blackout that the state’s largest utility hopes will prevent the start of more fires. The shut-off will affect 850,000 customers of Pacific Gas and Electric in anticipation of what the utility says will be some of the most dangerous conditions this year. Because each residential customer represents a household, the number of people affected could be far larger than the earlier blackouts.
As far as how many could lose power: Up to 2 million people..
Pacific Gas & Electric said once again that precautionary power outages could impact as many as 2 million residents.
“A potentially powerful and widespread dry, hot and windy weather event” would threaten electricity service through Monday afternoon, PG&E said in a statement Friday.
The utility has been halting power service in rural areas, mostly in Northern California, where downed lines and faulty transmission towers have been known to spark wildfires, including last year’s Camp fire, the state’s deadliest.