Small businesses threatened by potential PG&E power shut-offs

Small business owners say after the financial damage done by the pandemic, they can not afford to shut down during PG&E shutoffs.

Posted: Jun 23, 2020 11:01 PM

PLACERVILLE, Calif. - Heat waves have many on alert for wildfire danger, and with that threat comes the risk of PG&E cutting power.

The effects of coronavirus have hurt small businesses and the shut-offs could only do more financial damage.

In Placerville, business owners are bracing for the worst.

The owner of The Wine Smith said power was on and off for two weeks last year during blackouts, but this year, PG&E is promising change.

"To have this again is a huge slap in the face," said Zacharie Kokalis, the owner of The Wine Smith. "People didn't come in, we had to use candlelight, the business was very slow and it was heartbreaking."

PG&E spokesperson Brandi Merlo said we should "definitely" see a smaller number of customers being impacted.

The company said it has installed nearly 600 sectionalizing devices to target shut-offs in high-risk communities.

Additionally, it's installed more microgrids, like one recently installed in Shingletown, and doubled the helicopter fleet to 65, which will speed up line inspections after a weather event is over.

PG&E also said COVID-19 has not affected the progress on this.

"Our employees have been able to continue to work and continue to hit important milestones to upgrade our equipment," Merlo shared.

The utility said it wants to keep outages to a maximum of 12 hours, instead of multiple days like we saw last year.

Many business owners say after the damage done by the pandemic, they can't afford even a one-day shutdown.

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