CPUC Orders Investigation Into PG&E Power Shutoffs

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November 13, 2019 - 1:17 pm
Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) workers remain at the scene of a three-alarm fire that started after a construction crew hit a gas line on February 07, 2019 in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


The California Public Utilities Commission has unanimously ordered an investigation into PG&E’s multiple deliberate power outages that plunged millions of people into the dark last month.

The decision was made at a meeting Wednesday in San Francisco, following testimony from people pleading for regulation, planning and leadership.

Marybel Batjer, president of the California Public Utilities Commission, said that the blackouts cannot become the new normal. 

“The frequency and scope of the PSPS events of 2019 impacted communities and in a profound way,” said Batjer. “It is imperative that we do more to mitigate wildfire risk and reduce the use of PSPS in the future.”

Related: PG&E Admits Equipment Failed Near Wildfire's Starting Point

Batjer says the investigation could potentially hold PG&E accountable for its conduct.

“This investigation will serve as a forum for taking evidence to evaluate both the effectiveness and impacts of all phases of the PSPS events,” she said.

PG&E’s multiple rounds of shutoffs were meant to prevent its equipment from igniting wildfires in windy, dry weather. They affected nearly 2.5 million people throughout Northern California.

The utility insisted on the shutoffs for public safety, but a parade of public officials complained that the company botched its communications.

Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric also shut off power, but to far fewer people.