With the threat of another power outage looming, state lawmakers hammered Pacific Gas & Electric at the state Capitol on Monday for botching shut-offs that left millions of Californians in the dark this fall and blamed the company for failing to upgrade its system over time.
During an all-day hearing that included testimony from California’s investor-owned utilities, state officials and representatives of communities affected by outages, state senators vented their frustrations as they tried to identify legislative solutions to problems caused by this year’s wildfire-prevention blackouts.
“I look at what happened on Oct. 9 as a big screw you: to your customers, to the Legislature, to the governor,” state Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) said, adding that he felt the utility unnecessarily cut power to parts of his district last month. “It requires, again, that questioning: Who in the hell designed your system?”
Electrical utilities expanded the use of intentional outages during dangerous weather conditions over the last year to prevent their power lines from sparking the kinds of deadly fires that have become a way of life in California. The Legislature originally supported shutoffs as a method of last resort to save lives, and voted in 2018 to require the state’s three investor-owned utilities to annually submit outage protocols to the state.
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