Gov. Newsom to Ask PG&E to Provide ‘Automatic Credit' to Those Affected by Outages

Following days of preventive outages by PG&E, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he will ask the company to provide every affected customer with a sum of money.

Through a statement directed to Marybel Batjer, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, Newsom said "the scope and duration of this outage was unacceptable," and is asking for every residential customer affected to receive $100 and $250 for small businesses.

About 800,000 customers in parts of several Bay Area counties were affected by the outages. Some schools across the area decided to cancel classes, and businesses suffered financial losses due to lack of electricity.

The recent shutoffs were deemed "historic" and were enforced in an effort to prevent wildfires.

Newsom said the shutoffs were a "direct result of decades of PG&E prioritizing profit over public safety, mismanagement, inadequate investment in fire safety and fire prevention measures and neglect of critical infrastructure."

In a news conference, PG&E CEO and President Bill Johnson defended the power shutdown decision, saying it was for "safety."

"We faced a choice here between hardship on everyone or safety, and we chose safety," he said. "I do apologize for the hardship this has caused, but I think we made the right call on safety."

Newsom addressed in his statement several measures the state is to enforce to better prepare and prevent for utility-caused wildfires and added that the CPUC requires PG&E to evaluate steps to assist residents.

"We are a creative, forward-looking state," he said. "The blunt, poorly executed application of PSPS does not match the ingenuity of our people."

The preventive shutoffs lasted about four days, depending on the area. Power was restored in its totality on Saturday, and no significant damages were reported. However, PG&E said it found 30 instances of weather-related damage to its equipment during the shutdown, such as downed lines and vegetation on power lines.

Newsom said in his statement he anticipates "rapid response" to the issue: "Let's work together to ensure that this will not be the new normal for California."

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