800,000 Californians may have power cut to help prevent wildfires

PG&E may pull plug on 600K+ Californians

PG&E may pull plug on 600K+ Californians

With strong, dry winds expected to tear through vast portions of California on Wednesday, the power supply to more than 800,000 homes may be turned off by Pacific Gas and Electric as part of an effort to reduce the risk of wildfires.

PG&E expects to begin turning off power in some areas early Wednesday, just after midnight.

The power company is considering what the SF Chronicle dubs an "unprecedented move", days after a new report from the nonprofit group Next 10 and the firm Beacon Economics revealed that the 2018 wildfires were not only devastating for humans, but also for the environment.

The weather forecast for some of the areas identified as part of this "Public Safety Power Shutoff" predicts humidity in the teens and north to northeast winds of 15 to 25 miles per hour gusting at 40 to 50 miles per hour beginning late Tuesday night and lasting into Thursday. Utilities malfunctions have been tied to some of the state's most destructive fires, including last year's Camp fire, which devastated Paradise, Calif., and the 2017 wine country blazes. They all occurred during periods of gusty wind and low humidity. Almost 800,000 customers in 34 Northern and Central California counties will be affected.

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The power shut-offs have generated debate, with some residents saying they create a whole new set of dangers as they try to watch for news about fires.

Humboldt County will not be affected but nearby counties include Mendocino, Shasta, and Tehama. "This is because the electric system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity across cities, counties and regions", reads the press release.

Earlier this year, PG&E alerted the public and regulatory authorities that it may implement "public safety power shutoff" scenarios at times of "extreme weather or wildfire conditions", reads the PG&E website dedicated to public information about the program.

PG&E has been in the process of notifying potentially impacted customers of the October 9 outage and will continue to do so, via automated calls, texts and emails, reads Tuesday's press release.

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