California Utility Shuts Down Power to Prevent Wldfires

California Utility Shuts Down Power to Prevent Wldfires

A small sample of the wildfires that hit Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in 2017

Sometimes (well, most of the time), power is fundamental to everything – case in point, hundreds of thousands of Californians recently lost it in an attempt by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to avoid sparking wildfires.

“Diablo winds” are the culprit, here. According to PG&E meteorologist Scott Strenfel, these destructive weather events sweeping across Northern California "historically are the events that cause the most destructive wildfires in California history."

To combat these devil winds, PG&E began a deliberate campaign to systematically shut down power in affected areas until the adverse weather passed.

Early Wednesday, PG&E shut down power to 500,000 customers in Northern Cali, restoring it to 44,000 during the day, before cutting off another quarter-million households.

On Thursday, PG&E began the second phase of their shutdown efforts, and 600,000 were left without power. At that time (Thursday morning), PG&E had restored power to 137,000 patrons, but plenty of Californians were literally left in the dark.

"We took this step to ensure safety as a last resort, and we are committed to reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire events," said Sumeet Singh, vice president of PG&E's Community Wildfire Safety Program.

PG&E may very well prevent an environmental disaster (and keep its customers safe), but they appear to have an ulterior motive. According to the NY Times, the utility company could be on the hook for $30 billion in fines for wildfires caused by their equipment.

Read more here: