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California utilities cut power to hundreds of thousands amid fire danger
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by Indy Staff
Issue 170 - 10/15/2019
PG&E and Southern California Edison cut power to hundreds of thousands of customers preemptively to reduce the possibility of fire caused by overhead transmission lines. The move is unprecedented and expected to last approximately a week in some areas. News of the impending shutdown has led to a rush on stores in areas expected to go dark, as residents stockpiled batteries, flashlights, non-perishable foods, ice and gasoline.

Across the Golden State, 34 counties will be affected. 800,000 PG&E customers are expected to lose power in the Bay Area along with 100,000 Southern California Edison customers in the Los Angeles area. Utility officials blame the weather forecast calling for high wind for the shutdown and spurred outrage among ratepayers who say the utilities inadequate clearing of vegetation around power lines is the true cause.

Governor Newsom weighed in, saying the blackouts were a massive inconvenience necessary to reduce fire danger, while urging residents to find alternative power sources during the extended shutoff. California already ranks as the top solar powered state in the nation, with over 5 million homes generating about 16% of California's electricity using solar systems.

While the shutoff is expected to cost the California economy $2.6 billion, PG&E, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after faulty equipment was blamed for fires between 2014 and 2018, saw its stock trade up on the news that the company won't be held liable for new fires that erupt during the latest severe wind forecast, because the power is off.

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