PG&E power shutoffs in 2018 indicated trouble prior to this year’s outages

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — An Associated Press review of four smaller scale PG&E power shutoffs beginning in 2018 showed similar problems to what Northern Californians experienced this past fall.

“There was poor communication, nothing to protect health safety and welfare for those who depend upon power to stay alive and poor communication with emergency services,” said Mike Danko, an attorney for wildfire victims. 

To make matters worse, in testimony before the state legislators, PG&E CEO Bill Johnson explained over confidence was the reason things went so badly this fall. 

“I think we got a little complacent that we had figured it out,” Johnson said. 

A spokesman for PG&E believes the CEO’s comments were misconstrued

“He was making reference to operationally the portions of the operational of those early PSPS events went smoothly which doesn’t mean there were not other issues that needed to be addressed and fixed,” said PG&E spokesperson Jeff Smith. 

The review of those earlier shutoffs are also is critical of the California Public Utilities Commission for not holding PG&E’s feet to the fire.

“These were predictable problems,” said Mindy Spatt, with the Utility Reform Network. “The PUC was too willing to agree to what PG&E proposed without thinking throughout what was going to happen to vulnerable customers, small business, local emergency services and phone service.”

The reform network believes the CPUC has become bolder in its response to PG&E in recent months, something it hopes will continue. 

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