CALIFORNIA: More than 1.5 million people in Northern California were in the dark, most for a second day, after the state’s biggest utility shut off electricity to many areas to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires as strong winds sweep through.
Unprecedented in scope, the deliberate outages by Pacific Gas & Electric forced schools and businesses to close and otherwise disrupted life for many people, bringing criticism down on the company from the governor and ordinary customers alike.
PG&E cast the blackouts as a matter of public safety, aimed at preventing the kind of blazes that have killed scores of people over the past couple of years, destroyed thousands of homes, and run up tens of billions of dollars in claims that drove the utility into bankruptcy.
The shut-offs could be just a glimpse of the what lies ahead for California as climate change contributes to more ferocious blazes and longer fire seasons.
“It’s just kind of scary. It feels worse than Y2K. We don’t know how long,” Tianna Pasche of Oakland said before her area was powered down. “My two kids, their school situation keeps moving every second. It’s not clear if we need to pack for a week and go out of town or what to do. So I’m just trying to make sure we have water, food, charging stations and gas.”