LOS ANGELES – California's utilities warned Tuesday that more than three-quarters of a million people could lose power over the state Wednesday and Thursday if they have to turn off electricity to protect against wildfires caused by their equipment.
And yet another widespread blackout would be needed next week, they said.
With warm, dry Santa Ana wind forecasts, Pacific Gas and Electric Corp., or PG&E, the state's largest electricity grid, warned 189,000 customers in the north of the state by phone, text and email that it may need to shut down its power from Wednesday.
In the southern state of southern California, Edison said it was monitoring more than 1
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Mark Quinlan, PG & E's director of preparedness and preparedness, stated at a news conference Tuesday that it calculated The Northern California interrupt area was smaller than the company had warned on Monday, when it said as many as 209,000 customers could be affected.
But "the forecast continues to show the potential for hot, dry, windy weather," he said, saying that the final decisions would probably come Wednesday morning.
It would be the second massive blackout in the nation's most populous state in just two weeks, after PG&E turned off the power to nearly 2 million people in rolling blackouts from October 9.
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To make matters worse, Bill Johnson, PG & E's CEO, said the company was monitoring another "weather event" that could trigger rolling blackouts over the weekend or next week.  "It works," he said.
The tool was widely criticized for the relative lack of attention it gave customers earlier this month, when heavy user volume crashed their site for long periods, preventing customers from blackout and security updates.
The company set up a separate website to handle the crushing of visitors this time – but it went down for about 45 minutes Tuesday morning, Johnson said. The customers were redirected to the tool's main website, pge.com.
At Village True Value Hardware in Santa Rosa, in Sonoma County, manager Kim Scheffer was disappointed when she again led customers to gas cans and batteries.
"I don't think it's panic in itself – just," huh, we have to do it again? ", Scheffer told NBC affiliate KSEE from Fresno.
In a letter to PG&E on Tuesday, Govin Newsom reiterated that the company's need for fire prevention interruptions and its performance during the previous power cut was "unacceptable," blaming "decades of PG&E prioritizing profits over public services" for failing to maintain and upgrade its equipment.
Newsom again demanded that PG&E reimburse customers for lost businesses, housing alternatives or spoiled food and medicines. Like other tools, PG&E says it does not compensate customers for disruptions needed for security reasons.
Johnson, the CEO, seemed somewhat soft in that position Tuesday.
With a significant shutdown "ahead of us, and we have a potential that lies behind it, you can imagine that we are focused on these things," Johnson said.
"Haven't had much time to think about this "I'm thinking about it. I'm considering his request," he said.
While Johnson said that compensation customers would be "inconsistent with history here with general policy," he said that "when we're done with the fire season and we can stop thinking in just 24-hour increments, there's a time to have a political discussion about the right answer. "
" So we don't reject it, but we have more immediate things "to worry about, he said.
As California's winter fire season runs from October to April, Johnson's timetable means discussions about compensation c should not begin until well into next spring.
Johnson said that accepting compensation can further complicate the bankruptcy proceeding for PG&E, which faces huge debts from its role in several very destructive fires that burned hundreds of thousands of acres in Northern California in 2017 and 2018.
More than 80 people were killed last the year in one of the fires, which was called the camp. The company could have up to $ 18 billion in financial damages in a planned trial over its liability in Camp Fire and other devastating wildfires dating back to 2017.