State Utilities Regulator May Require Power Companies to Shut Off Electricity Amid High Fire Danger

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YUBA COUNTY -- The California Public Utilities Commission wants to require utility companies to notify customers if power is cut off when wildfire danger is high.

After last year's devastating fire season in California, some in Yuba County, where the destructive Cascade Fire ravaged the Loma Rica area, are glad to see an effort to prevent future wildfires.

"We're all trying to help each other out," Loma Rica resident Henry Russer said, as his community continues to rebuild.

But Russer questions how effective the CPUC's proposal will be, or how it could affect his life.

"When it's 115 degrees and they shut my power off, I'm gonna be pretty mad about it," he said.

The CPUC believes the plan could help save people and property. Pacific Gas and Electric, who is already blamed for some of last year's destructive wildfire, calls the proposal a positive step:

"We know how much our customers rely on electric service and would only consider temporarily turning off power in the interest of safety, and as a last resort during extreme fire danger conditions."

Whether or not the proposal goes through, firefighter Chad Morris appreciates the effort to prevent flames from threatening his community again.

"I think it's good that they want to try and help and that they want to try and find ways to prevent it from happening again," Morris said.

According to the CPUC's proposal, PG&E did not have any policies in place to turn off power lines to prevent fires prior to this year.

Power was never cut off during last year's fire season.

San Diego Gas & Electric, San Diego's utility provider, has shut off its power lines amid high fire danger since 2007, in response to destructive wildfires.

The CPUC will vote on the proposed police on July 12.

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