SACRAMENTO — Pacific Gas and Electric was again defending their move to intentionally shut off power to thousands Wednesday as strong winds whipped across Northern California.
Meanwhile, state officials were monitoring the red flag conditions and how the power outages are affecting the various regions affected.
The governor’s Office of Emergency Services opened its Emergency Operations Center Tuesday.
“We understand how disruptive it can be to shut off power to our customers for safety and we really appreciate their patience as we go through this weather event,” said PG&E spokesperson Lynsey Paulo.
PG&E said this likely will not be the last time a Public Safety Power Shut-off is enacted.
“When the conditions warrant it, and again we don’t take this decision lightly, we will use the PSPS as a tool to keep our communities safe and prevent wildfires from starting,” Paulo said.
But some say there is a better way.
“The wrong way to prevent wildfires is to rely on shutting off power,” said Mark Toney, the executive director of The Utility Reform Network. “The right way to prevent wildfires is to trim trees inspect equipment, fireproof wires and poles.”
Toney’s organization is calling for the California Public Utilities Commission to replace PG&E leadership.
“If the current management is unable to give us safe power, the PUC should bring in somebody else to run the company,” Toney told FOX40.
PG&E said it is working to improve service.
“We’re increasing our situational awareness, so that means we have eyes on our system at all times looking for fire threat,” Paulo said. “And we’re making those repairs and making those upgrades to really harden our system and make it more client resilient.”
They’re even putting more lines underground.
“But it takes a very long time to underground a system, and it’s also very expensive,” Paulo explained.
But Toney said there are quicker solutions and PG&E has not been using its time or money wisely.
“There are a lot of things that can be done cost-effectively and quickly and PG&E has received money to do it,” he said. “They’re just behind the ball in getting it done. That’s why we’re facing these massive shut-offs right now.”