Around 60,000 Californians had their power shut off this week in a bid to prevent wildfires sparked by power lines. With high wind and dry conditions common in much of the state, residents are being warned that outages will continue to happen.
Pacific Gas and Electric is the company behind the precautionary measures. The shutoff is referred to as a “last resort” in an informational flyer published by PG&E.
The company began cutting off power Sunday night, according to the Santa Rosa-based Press Democrat. Many resident were caught off guard after not being notified, and PG&E is now under fire for not properly communicating with customers and officials, including some 600 residents medically dependent on electricity.
This is just the latest public relations problem for the power company.
Investigators originally saddled PG&E with the blame for 16 of California’s recent wildfires, causing massive public outcry after the scale of the fires made an impact across social media.
First, I got hit by Phos-Chek, then by water from the Boggs helicopter during the #Reevesfire near Redwood Valley today in Mendocino County. @NorthBayNews @CAL_FIRE #fireseason #wildlandfirefighter pic.twitter.com/GnLlX12iYK
— Kent Porter (@kentphotos) September 15, 2018
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) October 23, 2017
This caused some to take their grievances to the legal system.
The company has been slapped with about 200 lawsuits already, according to BuzzFeed News.
PG&E’s potential bankruptcy was avoided thanks in part to Gov. Jerry Brown, who managed to get a law through the state legislature last month that established a state-sponsored bond to help pay for the lawsuits, BuzzFeed reported.
According to the company itself, the recent blackouts are a natural result of man’s effect on the environment.
A spokeswoman for the power company announced that climate change is to blame for the electricity outages, according to BuzzFeed. She also said the blackouts were part of a “new normal” that could “very likely” to continue in the future.
“With climate change upon us creating a new normal and the threat of these wildfires so strong, it is very likely we will keep doing this,” said Melissa Subbotin, according to BuzzFeed.
Experts have spoken out on the intensity of the wildfires, blaming it on mismanagement of natural resources by state and federal governments.
Shutting off power in the name of the environment might not be enough to save PG&E completely, though.
After blackouts left tens of thousands literally in the dark, the company was singled out in a Consumer Watchdog letter to the president of the California Public Utilities Commission.
The group argues PG&E needs to be investigated, and a “full public accounting” be given for any lapse in service. It claims the company’s blackouts are an attempt to squeeze the state government for more bailout money.
Consumer Watchdog dubbed the move “blackout blackmail.”
In California, the land of liberals, maybe that’s a “new normal,” too.
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