California utilities shut off power amid wildfire concerns

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Concerned about downed power lines sparking wildfires, two major California utilities for the first time cut power to some customers amid high winds - and another power provider was considering similar action.

Pacific Gas & Electric began cutting power Sunday night to tens of thousands of customers in Northern California after the National Weather Service warned of extreme fire danger across the state due to high winds, low humidity and dry vegetation.

San Diego Gas & Electric followed suit Monday, turning off power to about 360 customers in foothill areas near Cleveland National Forest, where multiple blazes have scorched large swaths of land in recent years.

Pacific Gas & Electric previously announced its plan to shut off power preemptively after authorities blamed its power lines for sparking some of California's most destructive wildfires.

The utility expects to pay billions of dollars in wildfire damages and has sought ways to limit its liability through the courts and Legislature.

PG&E said about 87,000 customers had their power halted and more could be left in the dark depending on the weather. Some 60,000 customers remained without power. Schools in those affected areas canceled classes.

PG&E said it expected to restore power Monday night to most customers - though some residents won't get electricity back until Tuesday.

"We know how much our customers rely on electric service, and we have made the decision to turn off power as a last resort given the extreme fire danger conditions these communities are experiencing," PG&E spokesman Pat Hogan said.

PG&E said it began notifying affected customers on Saturday about possible outages. However, many said Monday they had received little or no notice.

Stewart Munnerlyn was scrambling to find generators to save $8,000 worth of ice cream at his creamery shop in Pine Grove, about 55 miles (89 kilometers) east of Sacramento. Munnerlyn said he is in Virginia visiting a sick relative and received three text messages Sunday night from PG&E saying it might cut power, but he didn't know it actually happened until a friend called him.

"They knew what they were going to do obviously," Munnerlyn said. "We weren't given enough notice to properly prepare."

Kevin Kathman, executive chef of wine country restaurant All Seasons in Calistoga, said $12,000 worth of food at the site would spoil if power isn't restored soon.

Instead of tossing it, he was planning to cook over a fire during a block party for the "stressed out community" that includes winery owners in the middle of grape harvest. The power went out Sunday night and Calistoga remained without electricity Monday, even though Kathman said there was no wind.

"It's a beautiful day," he said. "We are all in disbelief that it's not back on."

PG&E spokeswoman Melissa Subottin said power was also cut to hospitals and other medical providers that are required to have backup power sources. PG&E officials visited 4,400 medical customers in the affected areas to personally warn them of the outages, she said.

The weather service predicted winds gusting to 55 mph (89 kph) in the Sierra foothills east of Sacramento. High winds were also expected in the state's wine country north of San Francisco.

Southern California Edison said it was considering shutting off power to an undetermined number of customers. Strong wind gusts swept across the region with the arrival of the first fall Santa Ana winds - hot, sustained gusts that blow from the desert to the ocean.

A motorist in the Orange County city of Tustin was killed when a eucalyptus tree fell on her car in an apartment complex. The victim was 34. No further details were released.

Southern California Edison spokesman David Song said about 32,000 of its 5 million customers were experiencing power outages, but no shutdowns had been ordered by the utility. Song said Edison was investigating the cause of those outages.


Associated Press writers Jocelyn Gecker in San Francisco and Christopher Weber and John Antczak in Los Angeles contributed to this report.


More Related News

Suspect in California officer
Suspect in California officer's killing accused of battery
  • US
  • 2019-06-22 04:20:39Z

A California man accused of killing a rookie Sacramento police officer was a wanted man when the fatal shots were fired. Nine days before Officer Tara O'Sullivan was gunned down Wednesday, a judge issued a warrant for the arrest of Adel Sambrano Ramos for failing to appear on a charge of battering a young woman. It's unclear if any attempt was made to arrest him before police say he opened fire as O'Sullivan and other officers helped an unidentified woman clear out her belongings from a Sacramento home as part of a domestic violence call.

California campus removes bell marking Catholic missions
California campus removes bell marking Catholic missions
  • US
  • 2019-06-21 23:42:50Z

A university in Northern California removed a bell marking the 18th century Catholic missions that Native Americans say glorifies racism. The University of California, Santa Cruz invited community members to the campus to witness the removal Friday of the El Camino Real Bell. Many Native Americans say the missions cut their ancestors off from their traditional languages and cultures and enslaved those who converted to Christianity.

If PG&E Wants Newsom
If PG&E Wants Newsom's Fire Aid, Here's What It Has to Do

(Bloomberg) -- It's no secret that California Governor Gavin Newsom wants to create a fund that the state's electric utilities can tap to cover the costs of catastrophic wildfires.Now, the utilities know what he wants in return.Based on a proposal released by Newsom's office Friday, PG&E Corp., Edison International and Sempra Energy would have to spend $3 billion on safety measures; earn an annual certificate by tying executive compensation to safety performance; and pass a "safety culture assessment," among other things. On top of that, PG&E -- which filed for Chapter 11 in January amid an estimated $30 billion in damages from blazes that its equipment caused -- would have to emerge from...

General Electric to scrap California power plant 20 years early
General Electric to scrap California power plant 20 years early

General Electric Co said on Friday it plans to demolish a large power plant it owns in California after only one-third of its useful life because the plant is no longer economically viable. The 750-megawatt natural gas-fired plant, known as the Inland Empire Energy Center, uses two of GE's H-Class turbines, developed last decade, before the company's successor gas turbine, the flagship HA model, which uses different technology. The closure illustrates stiff competition in the deregulated energy market as cheap wind and solar supply more electricity, squeezing out fossil fuels.

California governor proposes $21 billion wildfire fund: media
California governor proposes $21 billion wildfire fund: media
  • US
  • 2019-06-21 19:31:54Z

California Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed a fund of up to $21 billion to help utilities pay for future wildfire damage, media reports said on Friday. The reported proposal by the state's Democratic governor follows the bankruptcy filing of San Francisco-based utility PG&E Corp, which anticipates $30 billion in liabilities from wildfires in 2017 and 2018 that have been blamed on its equipment. Newsom has proposed two models for the fund, the media reports said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


Top News: Economy

Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.