(Wall Street Journal) By shutting off power in fire-prone parts of its service area, which are home to 5.4 million people, PG&E said in regulatory filings it hopes to prevent more deadly wildfires. The San Francisco-based company sought bankruptcy protection in January, citing more than $30 billion in potential damages from fires linked to its equipment.
This plan amounts to an admission by PG&E that it can’t always fulfill its basic job of delivering electricity both safely and reliably. Years of drought and a drying climate have turned the state’s northern forests into a tinderbox, and the utility has failed to make needed investments to make its grid sturdier.
During this year’s wildfire season, which typically starts around June, PG&E is preparing to make cutoffs to a far larger geographic region than it has targeted for blackouts in the past, increasing the number of potentially affected customers nearly 10-fold. While it is unlikely all areas would be affected at once, the outages may turn entire counties dark.
Advertisement - story continues below