PG&E Is Quiet About Newsom's Call For Refunds

All News KCBS Radio
October 15, 2019 - 10:10 am
he Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) logo is displayed on a sign in front of the PG&E Service Center on January 15, 2019 in San Rafael, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

PG&E is trying to emerge from an avalanche of public criticism about last week's power outage by emphasizing that there were no major wildfires in its territory despite a red-flag warning. 

"First and most important, during the Public Safety Power Shutoff, there were no catastrophic wildfires started," said PG&E CEO Bill Johnson in a statement. 

Johnson made the comments in response to a letter from Governor Gavin Newsom

Newsom said the utility should issue refunds to 700,000 customers from the Bay Area and Northern California that had their electricity shut off. In all, about 2.1 million people experienced the outage. 

Officials had warned that the electricity could be out for five or more days, but power was largely restored in about two days. 

Private customers should get $100 while businesses ought to receive $250 in credit from PG&E, Newsom proposed. 

Johnson didn't address the call for refunds, but said the gas and electric company had worked closely with county and local officials before starting the deliberate blackouts.

He had previously apologized for the company's poor performance at making accurate information available to the public during the two-day outage. PG&E's website was frequently offline, a backup website crashed and a call center was overwhelmed with inquiries. 

PG&E inspection crews have come across over 100 areas of damage to its system in the wake of those strong winds that prompted the outages. 

The damage includes downed power lines and trees that hit lines.

Utility officials  say one of those problems could have potentially sparked a wildfire. 

Customers accused PG&E of failing to adequately maintain its equipment and have aid vast outages were avoidable. 

Meanwhile, the California Public Utilities Commission is issuing series of sanctions against PG&E for what it calls "failures in execution" during the recent Public Safety Power Shutoffs.

In future shutdowns, the company must have a goal of restoring power within 12 hours, rather than its current 48-hour goal, the CPUC said. PG&E must also minimize the scale of the affected areas and improve communciations.