After warning 209,000 California customers that it might have to shut off their electricity starting Oct. 23 to prevent utility lines from igniting wildfires, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. began cutting service to thousands beginning shortly after 5 p.m. ET.
The new round of outages began at about 5:15 p.m. ET, starting in Santa Rosa as well as east and southeast of Yuba City and east of Folsom, according to the utility's outage center maps, which were being updated every 30 minutes. Within an hour, the shutoffs had been extended along Highway 101 and along the western border of Plumas, Eldorado and Stanislaus national forests. The portions of PG&E's service territory impacted include wide areas in and around Paradise, which in late 2018 was the scene of the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California's history. The cause of that fire ultimately was attributed to PG&E's electric equipment.
PG&E said that to protect public safety due to extreme weather, including high winds and dry conditions, it might have to continue shutting power to customers in portions of 15 counties in the Sierra Foothills and the North Bay areas.
The utility came under severe criticism from regulators, ratepayer advocates, legislators and the governor during and after its Oct. 9-12 "public safety power shutoff" event, which impacted 738,000 customer accounts for periods lasting 48 hours or more.
PG&E is a subsidiary of PG&E Corp.