The Latest: Utility plans more power outages in California
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on state legislative hearing into power outages by Pacific Gas & Electric (all times local):
Northern California is bracing for more power outages after Pacific Gas & Electric started notifying customers that it may turn off electricity Wednesday because of strong winds that could spark wildfires.
The latest planned blackout is expected to affect 660,000 people in parts of 22 counties, including the San Francisco suburbs, Sierra Nevada foothills and wine country.
The notices Monday come as California lawmakers prepare to grill PG&E officials at a hearing over massive outages last month, including one that affected nearly 2.5 million people.
Local officials and customers said the utility botched communications and the outages meant to prevent electrical equipment from igniting fires were too broad.
California regulators have ordered PG&E to say why it should not be sanctioned for violating state rules regarding such shutoffs.
The CEO of the nation’s largest utility is expected to face angry California lawmakers over the company’s decision to turn off power for millions of people to prevent its outdated equipment from starting wildfires.
Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. CEO Bill Johnson is scheduled to testify during a Legislative oversight hearing on Monday at the state Capitol. Lawmakers have repeatedly criticized the bankrupt company for leaving millions of people in the dark for days at a time during dry, windy weather events in October.
Johnson has defended the company’s actions as “well planned and executed,” arguing the power shutoffs have saved lives during the state’s lengthy wildfire season. But public officials have criticized the shutoffs for being too broad and poorly executed. Last week, the Public Utilities Commission launched a formal investigation.