Cal OES director voices frustrations over PG&E’s power shut-offs

California Connection
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- The state's top emergency management official got candid about his concerns with how the utilities are handling public safety in the recent power shut-offs.

"They can't have it both ways," said Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci. “They can't say, ‘We're going to do the PSPS for public safety,’ and not think about the consequences that happen because of that. That may prevent the fire from happening, but it creates a whole other set of complexities that we have to deal with."

Cal OES Wednesday launched its State Operations Center once again to keep an eye on those complexities. The agency already activated the center for half the month of October to address consequences from the multiple rounds of Pacific Gas and Electric’s shut-offs.

At an investigative hearing earlier this week, Ghilarducci told lawmakers his agency met with the utilities once a week for most of the year to plan ahead.

He said even still, the utility has struggled to stay consistent with providing the state details, including outage information, services and information on customers who are medically vulnerable. He said details equal lives.

"We are pushing them hard to give us the confidence to know that, in fact, when they open up a Community Resource Center or they are helping a community member in some form or they're going to get the power back on, that they'll give us an assurance to the granular level that it's actually happening,” Ghilarducci said. “I don't want to know about it after the fact that, oh, there was a whole population that didn't get services. Or the utilities say, ‘Well, we gave them services and thought that was good enough.’ It's not good enough."

Ghilarducci said the utility needs to do a better job of setting up contracts with the private sector ahead of time to help handle community needs from the company's self-inflicted shut-offs.

“We want them to start thinking in a different way, outside of their own interests and more into a broader, public interest," he explained.

With this smaller size of power shut-offs, the State Operations Center was running at its lowest level. It will be active through Thursday.

 

California Capitol Bureau Reporter Ashley Zavala filed this report.

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