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Nevada County asks for better PG&E oversight as businesses reel from outage

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NEVADA CITY, Calif. (KTXL) -- Nevada City, Grass Valley and Nevada County are joining together to call for more oversight during PG&E power shutoffs.

City and county leaders want the California public utilities commission to step in to require PG&E to follow certain guidelines during shutoffs.

There are plenty of customers in Nevada City Sunday, but over recent weeks business has been at a standstill. It’s one of the reasons why cities across the area are banding together to try to curb some of the impacts of PG&E’s shutoffs.

Chris Kyser’s Nevada City grocery store and restaurant, California Organics, is back open after PG&E power shutoffs forced them to close several times over the last month.

“We’re glad to see [customers] coming back. It’s been a slow build back to where it was before all this chaos happened,” said Kyser. “We’ve lost more money than we can afford to lose.”

Kyser estimates he lost around 130 thousand dollars between spoiled goods and lost business.

“It’s devastating. It’s like the whole world is upside down right now,” said Kyser.

And he’s not alone. Nevada County estimates businesses in the area, altogether, are losing roughly 400 thousand dollars each day of these shutoffs, inspiring Nevada City, Grass Valley and the County of Nevada to write a joint-letter to the California Public Utilities Commission.

“Basically asking them to step up, figure this out and do a better job,” said Nevada City Councilman Duane Strawser.

Strawser explains they want the CPUC to hold PG&E accountable during power shutoffs.

The letter outlines 4 regulatory requirements, starting with ensuring cell phones and landlines are up and running during shutoffs.

“Many of us with T-Mobile, for example, had six hours of coverage. And then we were down for multiple days and we need that,” said Strawser.

Next, the letter asks the commission to require PG&E to offer subsidized generators and oxygen for people with medical needs.

Thirdly, the letter calls on the utility for better communication.

And finally, the letter requests requiring safety shutoffs to be targeted more precisely to prevent outages across such massive areas.

“Make sure PG&E put the citizens, citizens are their customers. Customers come first. You have to put them before their stockholders and shareholders when it comes to profit,” said Strawser.

Kyser sees these requirements as a good first step but would like to see reimbursement for the thousands of dollars lost. After all, if something doesn’t change soon, he doesn’t know how his business will survive.

“Right now we’re just trying to figure out how we’re going to make it through the day,” said Kyser.

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