PG&E notifies 200K customers of potential second planned blackout

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) warned Monday that it may turn off power for more than 200,000 customers due to an "offshore wind event" that could increase the threat of wildfires.

"The potential safety shutoff is planned for varying start times depending on location beginning Wednesday evening and is expected to affect approximately 209,000 customers and may impact portions of 15 counties," the company said in a statement

PG&E noted that windy conditions like those forecast for this week in California increase the possibility of damage to power lines and infrastructure and increase the potential for fires to spread. 

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“The sole purpose of [the shutoff] is to significantly reduce catastrophic wildfire risk to our customers and communities," PG&E's senior vice president of electric operations, Michael Lewis, said in the statement. 

"As we saw in the last ... event, we had more than 100 instances of serious damage and hazard on our distribution and transmission lines from wind gusts of this strength," Lewis added.  

PG&E shut off power earlier this month to almost 800,000 people. 

The company was blamed for the Camp Fire last year, which killed 85 people. A Cal Fire report from May faulted the utility's equipment in the incident. 

As California law states that utilities can be held liable for fires caused by their equipment, PG&E was recently required to pay Northern California towns a combined $1 billion in a settlement for recent fires. 

California Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomNew shutdowns add to Trump woes The Hill's Coronavirus Report: California backtracks on reopening as cases soar nationwide; SoapBox CEO David Simnick says nimble firms can work around supply chain chokepoints to access supplies for sanitizers and hygienic materials Florida records highest one-day coronavirus death toll MORE (D) recently criticized PG&E over the most recent outage.