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California Power Shutoffs
News Bytes 10/16/2019 20 Comments

Millions of Californians spent part of last week in the dark. The Pacific Gas & Electric Company cut power—on purpose. The blackout was part of efforts to prevent deadly wildfires sparked by power lines. But do power shut-offs really prevent fires?

In the past two years, California officials have blamed several blazes on trees and vegetation that hit power lines or electrical equipment. Therefore, utilities have been given authority to shut off power when fire risk is extremely high.

This year has been mild for California fires. Right now, the state is experiencing the first major fire activity of the season. Before Monday, fires had covered only a small fraction of the acreage burned by that date last year.

It’s still too early—and maybe impossible—to tell whether that smaller number is due to power cuts. After all, no human being knows what might have happened without the power shutoffs.

As energy expert Alan Scheller-Wolf says, “They can’t prove they prevented a disaster because there’s no alternative universe where they didn’t try this.”

Powering off does seem to work. Large Western utilities in Nevada and Utah say they may also start using blackouts to avoid sparking fires.

Last week’s mass fire-related power outage came after fire broke out beneath a high-voltage tower on the edge of Los Angeles. The outage affected about two million people.

Marybel Batjer, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, blasted power company PG&E yesterday for failures during the outage. She ordered a series of improvements—such as trying to restore power within 12 hours instead of its current 48 hours, reducing the scale of outages, and improving communication with affected residents.

Governor Gavin Newsom criticized PG&E too, saying shutoffs affected too many customers for too long.

But PG&E’s president, Bill Johnson, insists the utility cut power to keep customers safe and “that was the right decision.”

(A home burns as a wildfire rages through Paradise, California last November. AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

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Most recent comments

1st comment!!!!!

I'm so sad to read this! People's homes are burning up! I hope they find a good solution to help prevent the fires.

Oh no!

I hope the fire stops! I fave an aunt in California. I hope things bet Bach normal.

2nd comment!

Well, I can understand why there are mixed feelings about this. While the power outages may help from people's houses getting destroyed, it's also pretty bad to have the power off for two days. I know from experience, since I live in Florida and hurricanes are always striking us.

@ Nadia A

sorry didn't see yours! LOL

Carys M

Its OK. I agree!!

I hope they can figure out if

I hope they can figure out if the power outages are helping and stop them if they aren't. Once my power was off from a Sunday evening to Thursday afternoon.

WOW!!! That 's really lame!

I can just imagine sitting here typing and the power going off for two days! And then our house burning down! That doesn't sound very great, I feel so bad for the people that it happened to! It's not fair to have your house Burt down.

But the picture they used looks really cool.

I've never had to experience

I've never had to experience anything like this, like no power, but I can just imagine it must be terrible. It must be so hard for people who have had no power for a long time.

Wow!! I can't imagine my

Wow!! I can't imagine my house burning down!! I live off the grid so I don't have to worry about the city cutting the power!! The Campfire that CA had last year was horrible
we had some friends homes get burned!!

Ohh dear! How terrible!

Ohh dear! How terrible!

hm

i live in California but we didn't have our power shut off. i have always wondered what it feels like though. we do live in a high fire risk area and i sometimes see smoke in the distance .i'm praying for these people whose houses are burning

FIRE

Where I live has lots of fire accidents and the other day I saw a big fire right next to a billboard. :o

To above

If you press the save button more han once it will post your comment more than once.

@Aynsley A

It is an unpreventable thing that eventually happens to everyone.

To above

Ya. So is being Locked out of your account! Because you forgot to resubscride! :-) :-)

: -) : -) : -) : -) : -) : -)

: -) : -) : -) : -) : -) : -) : -) : -): -) : -): -) : -)

Janna

I hope these fires will stop soon!

yeah same!

yeah same!

I think that planned power

I think that planned power outages could be a really good idea. I just wish we knew if they were actually helping prevent the fires...

This is Massimo A

LP I agree

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