Is it cutting off your nose to spite your face?
After several disastrous wild fires over the past decade, California went looking for a culprit and found one in the electric company Pacific & Gas and Electric (PG&E). Faulty equipment that broke down in high winds was determined as the cause of the so-called Camp Fire last year, which killed 85 people.
To guard against such possibilities in the future, PG&E came up with a plan: Cut power to regions that expect high winds.
Northern Californians woke up with no electricity on Wednesday morning as PG&E followed their new protocol and cut power to 800,000 people. Given the weather forecast for extended high winds and dry conditions, the residents could be without power for days.
PG&E said on Tuesday it was extending a previously announced “public safety power shutoff” to 34 counties, more than half of all the counties in California. It’s the largest such precautionary outage the utility has undertaken to date.
Once power is turned off, it cannot be restored until the winds subside, allowing the utility to inspect equipment for damage and make any repairs, PG&E said.
Facing multi-billion dollar lawsuits over previous fires, PG&E has already filed for bankruptcy.