State Watch

PG&E may shut off power in large portions of California to prevent wildfires

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Utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) warned Monday that it may shut off power across much of California later this week to prevent power lines and equipment from sparking wildfires.

The shutoff watch, which precedes a warning of a Public Safety Power Shutoff, covers 28 counties, including almost all of the Bay Area and northern parts of the Central Valley.

{mosads}PG&E has cut power to thousands of customers multiple times this year amid dry and windy conditions that increase the risks of a wildfire.

Power was generally restored within 24 to 48 hours of those shutoffs.

The warning points toward PG&E taking more extreme caution following last year’s Camp Fire.

The company agreed to pay $11 billion to insurance companies for the devastation that resulted from the blaze in Paradise, Calif., and other Northern California cities and counties in 2017 and 2018 after Cal Fire found PG&E equipment at fault for the fire.

Under California law, a utility can be held liable for fires its equipment causes even if the equipment is properly maintained.

PG&E had already filed for bankruptcy in January in an attempt to protect itself from the liabilities related to the California wildfires.

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