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PG&E: It will take time until outages not needed

The chief executive of California's largest utility says it will take about a decade for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to get to the point where widespread safety outages are not necessary when fire danger is high.

Posted: Oct 18, 2019 2:44 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The Latest on a massive power shut-off last week in Northern California (all times local):

2:07 p.m.

The chief executive of California's largest utility says it will take about a decade for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to get to the point where widespread safety outages are not necessary when fire danger is high.

PG&E Corp. CEO Bill Johnson told state regulators Friday he expects the utility to get better with each new pre-emptive outage as it works to upgrade its equipment so blackouts affect fewer people.

Appearing before an emergency meeting of the California Public Utilities Commission, Johnson said the Oct. 9 outage was the right call but said the utility could have done much better executing it.

PG&E shut off power to more than 2 million people last week because of fears that dangerous winds could knock down utility equipment and spark wildfires.

Customers complained of overloaded call centers and a crashing website that made getting information difficult.

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12:15 a.m.

Top executives of California's largest utility are expected at an emergency meeting Friday to answer questions by state regulators about a massive pre-emptive power shutdown last week that has been criticized as poorly executed and unacceptable.

The meeting of the California Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco comes as outrage grows against Pacific Gas & Electric Co. The utility cut off power to more than 2 million people in northern and central California Oct. 9, saying that high wind forecasts could have damaged equipment and sparked wildfires.

In a letter to PG&E chief executive Bill Johnson issued earlier this week, commission President Marybel Batjer scolded the utility for an "unacceptable situation" and ordered a series of corrective actions, including a goal of restoring power within 12 hours, not the utility's current 48-hour goal.

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