San Francisco

Power Restored to All Customers Affected By Power Safety Shutoffs

PG&E officials announced Saturday that all power has been restored to customers affected by the power safety shutoffs.

According to the utility, the last group of customers without power were in Amador and Calaveras counties and were restored around 6 p.m. 

Statewide, from the Sierra to Kern County, about 738,000 customers were impacted by the power shutdown.

"We faced a choice here between hardship on everyone or safety, and we chose safety," PG&E CEO and President Bill Johnson said Thursday. "I do apologize for the hardship this has caused, but I think we made the right call on safety."

The dry windy weather that triggered the power shutoffs included wind gusts of more than 70 miles per hour in some areas, from Wednesday evening into Thursday morning.

The utility said it found 30 instances of weather-related damage to its equipment during the shutdown. Examples include downed lines and vegetation on power lines. 

Some people in the largely rural Butte, Plumas and Yuba counties and in Northern California’s wine country counties were without electricity for up to three days.

Butte County is where a fire started by PG&E equipment last year decimated the town of Paradise and killed 85 people. In Napa and Sonoma counties north of San Francisco, the outages began on the two-year anniversary of deadly wildfires that killed 44 and destroyed thousands of homes.

PG&E faced hostility and second-guessing over the shut-offs, which prompted runs on supplies like coolers and generators and forced institutions to shut down.

Ryan Fisher, a partner in consumer goods and retail practice at global consultancy A.T. Kearney estimated $100 million in $200 million in fresh food was likely lost because of the outages along with $30 million a day in consumer spending.

PG&E cast the blackouts as a matter of public safety to prevent the kind of blazes that have killed scores of people over the past couple of years, destroyed thousands of homes, and ran up tens of billions of dollars in claims that drove the company into bankruptcy.

The utility suggested it was already seeing the wisdom of its decision borne out as gusts topping 77 mph (122 kph) raked some hilltops where wildfire risk was extremely high.

Utility CEO Bill Johnson promised if future wind events require similar shut-offs, the utility will “do better” at communicating with customers. It’s unacceptable that its website crashed, maps were inconsistent and call centers were overloaded, Johnson said.

“We were not adequately prepared,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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