A wildfire in California wine country that may have been caused by a high-voltage transmission line called into question Pacific Gas & Electric’s strategy of selectively cutting off power in windy weather to prevent blazes and could force it to resort to even bigger blackouts affecting millions as early as this weekend.
The repeated shut-offs and the prospect of longer and more widespread ones brought anger down on the utility from the governor and ordinary customers.
“We will hold them to account,” warned Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has repeatedly blasted PG&E — the nation’s largest utility — for what he calls years of mismanagement and underinvestment that have left its grid less resilient.
But PG&E’s decision to shut down distribution lines but not long-distance transmission lines may have backfired this time when a blaze erupted near the Sonoma County wine country town of Geyserville.
The fire burned at least 49 buildings and 34 square miles (65 square kilometers) and prompted evacuation orders for some 2,000 people. No serious injuries were reported.
Source: Associated Press – JONATHAN J. COOPER and DAISY NGUYEN