State lawmakers demand answers from PG&E as CEO testifies

PG&E Power Shutoffs

SACRAMENTO (KRON) — Leaders of Pacific Gas and Electric testified in front of angry California lawmakers Monday on its public safety power shutoffs. 

“Who in the hell designed your system,” asked Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa).

PG&E’s CEO faced frustrated lawmakers at Monday’s senate oversight hearing into October’s power shutoffs.

CEO Bill Johnson maintained the company’s decision to cut down power to millions of people for up to five days last month.

“Extreme weather that prompted the shutoffs was a one in 30 year event,” Johnson said. 

“I question the inconsistencies,” said Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Santa Rosa).

Several times throughout the hearing, senators reminded utility leaders the power the government has to take control.

“I’m open to any response that serves the needs best of the people of Northern California, now I do work for the shareholders at the moment so let’s not kid ourselves about that, but I think PG&E as an integrated different company is the best way to serve,” Johnson said. 

Lawmakers also analyzed how the state’s other investor owned utilities more successfully handled smaller scale shut offs by using sectionalized systems or microgrids.

PG&E leaders say they are working toward sectionalizing parts of its grid to limit the size of its shut offs but still noting it will take time.

Lawmakers are still left with questions.

“It leaves everybody wondering, what are we going to have next?” Dodd said. 

Lawmakers have criticized PG&E for saying it would take ten years before its equipment was resilient enough to avoid the power shut offs.

On Monday they told lawmakers they are working so that that won’t be the case. 

They will be submitting an updated timeline to regulators in january. 

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