California power customers file claims in pre-emptive outage
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A Northern California utility said Wednesday it received 146 demands for reimbursement from customers who say Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s controversial decision to cut power to prevent wildfires hurt them economically.
The utility said in a report to California regulators that it won’t pay any of the claims. Most of the complaints were over spoiled food.
PG&E also explained its decision to pre-emptively cut power for the first time to 60,000 Northern California customers from Oct. 14 to Oct. 16. PG&E said in its report to the California Public Utilities Commission that it made the decision after the National Weather Service issued a wildfire warning for much of the region.
PG&E said its officials felt a forecast of sustained winds of 25 mph gusting to 45 mph (40 to 72 kph) threatened to bring down power lines and start wildfires.
PG&E said low humidity and dry vegetation contributed to its decision.
Many of the affected customers complained that the outages occurred during what appeared to them to be mild weather.
“PG&E views this as an extreme measure that should be taken with great care,” the company said in its report. The Public Utilities Commission this summer formally authorized California utilities to shut power when they feel wildfire threats are high.
PG&E expects to pay billions of dollars in wildfire damages and has sought ways to limit its liability through the courts and legislature.