Dangerous Winds Cause Northern California Utility Company to Cut Power to 500,00 Residents
Thousands of California residents are without power this morning after the gas and electric company decided to voluntarily shut off their utilities out of an abundance of caution.
The utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric, shut off the power for some 800,000 people living in Northern California due to high winds, which could have downed power lines and sparked a wildfire. The shutdown, USA Today reported, will likely last through Thursday.
"The safety of our customers and the communities we serve is our most important responsibility, which is why PG&E has decided to turn power off to customers during this widespread, severe wind event," Michael Lewis, a senior vice president for California's largest power company, told USA Today. "We ... appreciate the public's patience as we do what is necessary to keep our communities safe and reduce the risk of wildfire."
The Los Angeles Times reported, the power is shut down in 34 counties, and is the biggest power shutdown to prevent wildfires so far. However, not everyone is happy with the power company’s decision.
“It is a very blunt way of approaching the situation, but at the same time, there’s an understanding of why it’s being undertaken,” Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt told The Los Angeles Times. “We have vulnerable populations, our elderly and young children. We’re mostly concerned about them.”
This fear of causing a fire from the utility company isn’t unfounded. The New York Times explained, PG&E was responsible for dozens of wildfires over the last few years, including last year’s fire in the town of Paradise that killed 86 people and destroyed some 10,000 homes.
Northern Californian residents may not be the only ones affected. According to USA Today, parts of Southern California could also face shutdowns soon as Southern California Edison reported it is considering implementing the Public Safety Power Shutoff plan. If it does it would shut off power to 173,000 customers.