PG&E Warns It Could Cut Power to California Users Again


For this event, PG&E said customers visiting the pge.com website were being redirected to a special, strength-tested site able to accommodate high volumes of traffic. The temporary site provides customer information by address, community resource center locations and other shutdown-related information. Online services such as bill payments will be unavailable until after power has been restored.

Mr. Johnson said the increasingly disastrous effects of climate change would continue to make power shut-offs necessary, though less often as PG&E and other utilities harden their electric systems. But he said it would probably be a decade before PG&E no longer used power shut-offs as a tool for preventing wildfires based on what he had seen from the experiences at San Diego Gas & Electric, which began work on its system after fires in 2007.

“I think we’re being realistic about it,” Mr. Johnson said. “There will be fewer every year.”

Time is of the essence for PG&E to demonstrate its ability to manage its operations. Cities like San Francisco and San Jose have increasingly called for breaking up PG&E and turning its operations into municipal utilities.

Mr. Newsom has said he wants PG&E to issue rebates of $100 to residential customers and $250 to small businesses for the effect of the power shut-offs earlier this month. Mr. Johnson said that the utility was reviewing the idea but that he was concerned about the precedent such a request might set. The governor called for the rebate again on Tuesday.

For all the criticism, Mr. Johnson has maintained that the most significant result of the power shut-off strategy has been that it prevented the utility’s equipment from causing a wildfire. Even though the execution of the power shut-offs was poor, he said he believed the scope, targeting two million people, was necessary.

“We got that right,” Mr. Johnson said.

State Senator Jerry Hill, a Bay Area Democrat, said that because of the utility’s negligence and the loss of lives throughout its service area, it had become difficult to believe PG&E.

“We just don’t, we meaning the public, we can’t rely on their assessment of the need,” Mr. Hill said. “It may be necessary, but there’s no one to verify their actions and no one can trust their actions.”



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