PG&E Starts Restoring Electricity to 500,000 Californians

PG&E Corp. has begun restoring power to some of the 500,000 Californians it blacked out Monday as high winds raked the fire-scarred state and threatened to knock electrical lines to the ground.

PG&E has switched on electricity for more than 30,000 homes and businesses, affecting about 90,000 people, the company said Wednesday. The wind storm prompting the shutoffs, packing gusts above 60 miles per hour in some places, had faded enough to let the utility’s field workers inspect the lines for damage.

$69.​9B Renewable power investment worldwide in Q2 2020 +0.​92° C Jul. 2020 increase in global temperature vs. 1900s average 92% Carbon-free net power in Brazil, most recent data 0 3 2 1 0 9 0 2 1 0 9 8 0 9 8 7 6 5 Soccer pitches of forest lost this hour, most recent data 0 6 5 4 3 2 0 3 2 1 0 9 0 4 3 2 1 0 .0 9 8 7 6 5 0 9 8 7 6 5 0 5 4 3 2 1 0 9 8 7 6 5 0 6 5 4 3 2 0 9 8 7 6 5 Parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere

Peshawar, PakistanMost polluted air today, in sensor range -40.​00% Today’s arctic ice area vs. historic average

50,​820 Million metric tons of greenhouse emissions, most recent annual data

The move will bring a measure of relief to PG&E’s affected customers, who lost power just as record-breaking heat and smoke from wildfires smothered the state. It came as utilities in Southern California, where the winds were still increasing, had cut electricity to about 250 customers and are weighing whether to plunge thousands more into darkness.

READ: Orange Skies Blanket California With Blackouts, Fires Persisting

PG&E was driven into bankruptcy last year after the company’s wires sparked a series of deadly wildfires during wind storms, emerging in July after agreeing to pay $25.5 billion to settle lawsuits from the blazes. Rather than risk more fires, the company has started shutting down power whenever high winds approach during the state’s long dry season.

The state’s other big utilities, units of Edison International and Sempra Energy, have done the same, and the practice is now spreading outside California. Portland General Electric Co. shut off power to 5,000 customers Monday as the same wind storm battering California hit Oregon, knocking down power lines and sparking fires. Governor Kate Brown on Tuesday asked other Oregon utilities to follow suit.

“I commend them for that very difficult decision,” Brown said of Portland General Electric.

For California, PG&E’s shutoffs were just the latest blow in a difficult summer. The state endured one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the U.S., with more than 13,700 Californians lost to the pandemic. Two heat waves, the latest hitting this weekend, strained power supplies and triggered the state’s first rolling blackouts since California’s electricity crisis of 2001. And lightning storms — a rarity in a state that sees little summer rain — touched off hundreds of fires, forcing evacuations and flooding the air with smoke.

More shutoffs could be on the way. California’s fire season typically peaks in September and October, before the rains return. So far this year, fires have burned more than 2.5 million acres in the Golden State, the most on record.

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