Sonoma, California — In an unprecedented move, nearly a million people have had their. The state's largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric or PG&E, is trying to prevent its wires from , but that move is sparking anger.
The power outages began early Wednesday as California residents loaded up on essentials for what they say is a "man-made disaster."
PG&E has been forced to shut off electricity to customers because a forecast of high winds andis expected to put pressure on its aging and faulty infrastructure. It is a desperate attempt to avoid what happened in November when sparks from power lines ignited the fire that tore through the , killing 86.
Ron Blasingame lost his power at 2 a.m. and he could be in the dark for days.
"This is ridiculous! They are a public utility. How do they pass on their mistakes to us?" he said.
Up to 34 California counties are experiencing a rolling blackout that began at midnight and will continue throughout the evening. By 6 p.m., more than 800,000 people will be off the grid.
Dermot Coll is keeping his bar open for a few more hours with a generator but anticipates losing a lot of money.
"I'm gonna tell you $30,000," he said.
Stanford economist Michael Wara estimates turning off the power could cost as much as $2.6 billion.
The economic impacts vary a lot, depending on who is blacked out, what kind of customer, whether it's a factory or supermarket or house.
At a hardware store in Sonoma, people have been waiting in line to be escorted by flashlight. It's not business as usual for a state confronted by a growing wildfire season. Winds are expected to be their strongest Thursday.