If you or any of your loved ones live in California, be prepared for power outages during the upcoming fire season. The state's three largest energy companies have announced they will be turning off power during extreme weather or wildfire conditions.
Earlier this month, the energy companies announced their coordinated wildfire safety and awareness campaign, which was created to prepare state residents for the upcoming power outages. PG&E began the shut-off program last year but it only applied to around 570,000 customers. Now, 5.4 million will be impacted.
The statewide Power of Being Prepared campaign is being led jointly by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), at the direction of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
Californians are being warned to prepare for power shutoffs due to wildfire risks.
According to a press release, the campaign's purpose is a "call to action for all Californians to take important steps to get ready before the 2019 wildfire season, such as creating a thorough emergency plan and updating their contact information with their energy company."
A recent report released by California Governor Gavin Newsom's Strike Force addressing wildfire issues states, "More than 25 million acres of California wildlands are classified as under very high or extreme fire threat. Approximately 25 percent of the state's population – 11 million people – lives in that high-risk area."
The change stems from PG&E's expansion of its shut-off program scope to include higher-voltage transmission lines like the one suspected of involvement in the start of last year's Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California's recorded history. In February 2019, PG&E filed for bankruptcy protection, citing potentially $30 billion in liabilities after two seasons of historic wildfires. The company admitted a power line failure was the probable cause of the Camp Fire that killed 86 people and destroyed thousands of homes. In a filing with federal regulators, PG&E expressed doubt about its ability to remain in business.