Nevada City mayor calls for help for small businesses suffering from PG&E shutoffs

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NEVADA CITY, Calif. (KTXL) -- After thousands of PG&E customers lost power Saturday and Sunday, the power may continue to be cut for residents in 32 counties starting Tuesday.

PG&E sending out warnings to thousands in the impact zones. Some of those areas only had their power restored Monday afternoon.

That has some local leaders calling on the state to do more for small businesses that are taking a huge financial hit.

Businesses in Nevada city have simply closed because the power was out Saturday and Sunday and most of Monday morning.

The mayor is questioning if the state can do more for business and if her town can get away from PG&E.

“Power just came on a few minutes ago,” said Nevada City Mayor Reinette Senum. "We don't know [for how long]. We ask a lot of different sources, we get different answers, which has been really doubly hard on our restaurants and our grocery stores and our businesses.”

Senum says PG&E’s public safety power shutdowns have been destroying her town’s bottom line.

“Right now most people are feeling like they’re being held hostage by PG&E and it makes everyone very uncomfortable,” said Senum.

Power has been restored Monday afternoon but PG&E says strong winds Tuesday night could force the utility company to cut power to customers in 32 counties through Wednesday and possibly into Halloween.

“We did start notifying yesterday some customers that could potentially be impacted or could continue to see their power out," PG&E spokeswoman Brandi Merlo said.

That includes Nevada county, which Senum says typically attracts a fair amount of tourists in the fall.

“This has been a beautiful fall and the leaves are now kind of being swept away a little bit from the winds. We still have some but this is a very popular time of the year," said Senum.

Many Halloween events were canceled and stores were closed on Saturday and Sunday. That’s why Senum wants Governor Gavin Newsom and other lawmakers to declare a state of emergency, not for government agencies but for private businesses.

“Right now we have businesses who have that one foot in the grave and they really should get a zero percent interest loan to stretch out the damage over the next 5-10 years to pay that debt back,” said Senum.

Meanwhile, Senum says she and the city council are exploring ways Nevada City can run its own electrical grid.

“We have to get away from PG&E, they’re acting criminally and this is not for our best interest," Senum said. "This is for their bottom line. It’s hurting us and it’s for their bottom line."

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