California Gov. Gavin Newsom slams PG&E for power outages: 'Greed and mismanagement'

Power outages will affect dozens of California counties

Power outages will affect dozens of California counties

Some of the state's most devastating wildfires were sparked in recent years by damage to electrical transmission lines from high winds, with flames then spreading through tinder-dry vegetation to populated areas. "(Pacific Time), PG&E has not issued an "all clear" for the Bay Area". PG&E later an $11 billion settlement to cover claims for the California wildfires after the utility declared bankruptcy due to the lawsuits. State Sen. Scott Weiner estimated that 2.5 million people could be impacted.

Millions of Californians are playing a waiting game with the winds after Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to prevent transmission lines from being toppled and sparking wildfires.

The utility said a third round of outages is still being considered, but says it will not impact as many customers as originally anticipated. "It's unacceptable that the region is being forced to endure this level of disruption as the long-term strategy for dealing with the threat of wildfires". Utility owner PG&E began shutting off electricity to parts of the region early Wednesday to prevent its power lines from sparking fires during an expected windstorm.

Gale-force wind gusts, mostly in higher elevations, were expected to intensify late on Wednesday across northern and central California before gradually migrating into southern California overnight and Thursday, National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Anderson said.

"We faced the choice here between hardship on everyone or safety - and we chose safety", said CEO Bill Johnson.

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It warns that customers could be without power for "longer than 48 hours" and suggests customers ready themselves for an outage that "could last several days".

"We have found multiple cases of damage or hazards" caused by heavy winds, including fallen branches that came in contact with overhead lines, said Sumeet Singh, a vice president for the utility. "We were just left up in the air".

At least three wildfires broke out in Southern California on Thursday afternoon fanned by powerful winds.

Since PG&E was determined to be the root cause, "the burden of those liability claims, coupled with the state legislature [which] determined [PG&E] could not raise rates to pay for those, they couldn't use rate payer money to pay for those fire-related claims, they would have to use shareholder money", said Catherine Wolfram, who is a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and an expert on energy policy with the campus' Energy Institute. "Whether it's a grid-caused fire, or an ignition from a auto engine, or your lawnmower or something else, those are not places where people should be living and expect all the tax payers of the state to bail them out".

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