California: PG&E warns of fresh power shutoffs for 500,000 due to fire weather
Less than two weeks after cutting power to large swathes of northern California, the state’s largest utility is warning that dangerous fire weather could prompt it to shut off power again to about a half-million people.
The utility is concerned that winds forecast to hit 60mph at times could throw branches and debris into power lines or topple them, sparking wildfires. PG&E equipment has been blamed for igniting several of California’s deadliest and most destructive blazes in recent years, including the deadly 2018 Camp fire. The utility, facing billions in potential claims, was forced into bankruptcy.
The shutoffs earlier this month caused schools to close and many businesses to shutter. Residents complained PG&E communicated late and ineffectively about those power outages, even failing to keep its website running smoothly.
The shutoffs revealed the depth of California’s infrastructure problems amid a growing climate crisis. “What is clear is whatever this giant mess is, it’s not in any way acceptable or sustainable,” Costa Samaras, a climate resilience researcher and analyst, and associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University told the Guardian earlier this month.
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