Nearly 500,000 Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) customers in northern California will be in the dark starting at midnight Wednesday as the company begins shutting off power in an effort to help prevent starting a wildfire.
Another 300,000 will likely lose power later in the day, for a total of 800,000 customers affected by the shutoff, Sumeet Singh, vice president of the company’s Community Wildfire Safety Program said.
Forecasters are warning that many parts of northern California are under extreme fire weather danger with windy and dry conditions forecast for the region.
“We implement this public safety power shutoff as a last resort,” Singh said in a Tuesday news conference. It could take several days to restore power, Singh added, as the company will first conduct safety inspections once the widespread wind event is over.
PG&E has come under fire for its role in a series of catastrophic wildfires across the state. The company has previously said it is “probable” that its equipment started the 2018 Camp Fire — the state’s deadliest and most destructive blaze — when a power line touched nearby trees.
An investigation by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection found the company responsible for the fire, which killed 85 people and destroyed thousands of structures.