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Wildfire Fears Leave 2 Million Californians Without Power

PG&E has begun shutting down power supply in parts of California in yet another round of controlled outages aimed at reducing the risk of wildfires sparked by power lines.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the utility shut down the power supply to 940,000 customers already but will continue the shutdowns until it covers all risky areas. Some may remain without electricity until Wednesday unless the weather changes. That means well over 2 million Californians are currently living without power.

The San Francisco Chronicle, for its part, reported that the utility had not yet decided if it would continue with the shutdowns. The daily quoted PG&E CEO Andy Vesey as warning people to prepare for an extended outage.

“I would ask everyone to make sure you’re prepared for the potential that your power may not be restored,” Vesey said.

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The blackouts have become the latest blow to the bankrupt company, which earlier this month agreed to pay $65 million to settle claims that it forged documents regarding the day-to-day safety procedures followed by its personnel.

In early October, PG&E shut down the power supply of more than 730,000 homes and offices in the northern part of the state, again because of dry, windy weather. The move drew sharp criticism from both the public and California authorities, with Governor Gavin Newsom accusing the company of greed.

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“I have a message for PG&E: Your years and years of greed. Years and years of mismanagement. Years and years of putting shareholders over people. Are OVER,” Newsom tweeted on Saturday.

According to a local media report cited by Fox News, however, the governor himself benefited from that greed by accepting a campaign donation from the utility.

Ironically, it was wildfires that nailed PG&E’s coffin in the first place. When the utility filed for bankruptcy protection in January this year, it said it faced civil liabilities of up to $30 billion because of wildfires that were allegedly sparked by its transmission lines and other equipment, Reuters recalled.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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