California utility hit over power outages

California utility hit over power outages
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California Governor Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomNewsom signs privacy laws for abortion providers and patients Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — Senate Finance chair backs budget action on fossil fuel subsidies Water usage in Southern California increased, despite Newsom's call to cut back: data MORE (D) and a California utility regulator knocked Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) for its execution of the largest power outage in state history.

In a letter sent Monday, Newsom called on PG&E to pay customers for their "inadequate preparation and failed execution" in the planned outage, which was intended to avoid triggering a wildfire.


"I am profoundly disappointed in PG&E's decisions and neglect over the course of many years, which led to this extreme power shutoff event," he wrote.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) president outlined in a letter corrective actions for the electric company to take, including getting the power back in 12 hours, as opposed to PG&E's current goal of 48 hours.

“The scope, scale, complexity, and overall impact to people’s lives, businesses, and the economy of this action cannot be understated,” CPUC President Marybel Batjer said in the letter. 

Batjer added that the outage "created an unacceptable situation that should never be repeated." Her other requests called for the company to put more effort into avoiding large outages, find better communication methods with public and local officials, develop an improved system to show outage maps, and work with emergency officials to make sure its employees are well-trained.

The president further said the company did not follow recommendations state officials gave to PG&E after it was allowed to conduct outages last year, The Associated Press reported.

PG&E announced it could shut off power to much of the state to avoid power lines from triggering wildfires last week during strong winds. Two days later, the outage began, leading 2 million people to be without power. 

PG&E CEO Bill JohnsonWilliam (Bill) Leslie JohnsonMaintain navigable waters rule to make homes more affordable Six ways to visualize a divided America Former Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel jumps into Senate race MORE said at a press conference last week the company was "not adequately prepared," the AP reported.

Johnson said in a response to the CPUC letter and Newsom's letter that no wildfires began and that he utility company worked with local and state officials during the outage. The statement maintained the decision was made to "keep customers and communities safe."

"We know there are areas where we fell short of our commitment to serving our customers during this unprecedented event, both in our operations and in our customer communications, and we look forward to learning from these agencies how we can improve," the statement said.