Downed power lines are blamed for causing some of California's worst wildfires and driven Pacific Gas and Electric to file for bankruptcy. But when PG&E recently shut off power to more than 700,000 customers in Northern California, people living there say it created more problems than it solved.
Regulators chastised the company's CEO at an emergency meeting of California's public utility commission Friday for taking such an extreme precautionary measure. Commission President Marybel Batjer said the blackouts "cannot be repeated."
But PG&E said there could be ten more years of shutoffs while it updates equipment to prevent future fires.
"Let me assure you, we do not like to turn off the power," CEO Bill Johnson said. "But we actually didn't have any catastrophic fires in Northern and Central California and that was the sole intent."
Southern California utility company Edison said it too may shut off power to thousands as winds pick up this weekend. The power was on when last week's deadlybroke out. Investigators are trying to determine if a live wire may have been the cause.