California power shutoffs: when your public utility is owned by private investors

The Guardian | Oct 12, 2019 at 5:00 AM
  • When the United States’ largest investor-owned utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, shut down power to millions of Californians this week, nearly no one was ready.
  • PG&E made shutting down its grid in dry, windy weather a core part of its wildfire management strategy in 2018, after the company faced $30bn in liabilities for their role in sparking two of the deadliest and costliest fires in California history.
  • Depending on how PG&E assesses the fire risk and the potential failure of the grid at any given time, the plan calls for shutting down up to 30,700 miles of transmission and distribution lines, about 25% of the grid, potentially impacting all 5.4 million PG&E accounts, or roughly 16 million people.