By JOSH FRIEDMAN
PG&E has shut off power in numerous Northern California counties and may cut off electricity to 800,000 customers statewide.
In a preemptive move to eliminate wildfire risk, PG&E began shutting off power early Wednesday morning, immediately impacting about 500,000 customers. PG&E announced 34 counties in Northern and Central California could be impacted by the shutoffs.
San Luis Obispo County is not expected to be affected. However, 32 customers in Santa Maria may be impacted, according to PG&E.
The utility says it is shutting off power to eliminate wildfire risk amid widespread, severe wind in much of Northern and Central California. There also may be be power shutoffs in areas not experiencing extreme weather conditions because the electric system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity across regions, PG&E said.
PG&E could take up to five days to restore power to affected areas. The utility is opening community resources centers across the state with emergency supplies and electronics charging stations.
A second phase of the power shutoff is expected to take effect around noon on Wednesday. Meanwhile, SoCal Edison is also considering a power shutoff that could affect more than 100,000 customers in Southern California.
Both PG&E and Edison have been found responsible for major recent wildfires in California, which in PG&E’s case, has plunged the utility into bankruptcy.