‘Blackout blackmail’ or last resort? PG&E defends Northern California power cut

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“The utility defended its actions, however, saying the high winds did damage some of its power lines. “Crews found multiple instances where equipment was potentially damaged during the recent weather event,” said Brandi Merlo, a spokeswoman for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Merlo couldn’t provide any specific information about the damage.

PG&E shut off power Sunday evening to about 59,000 customers in the first test of its “public safety power shutoff program,” launched in response to last October’s deadly wine country fires. Cal Fire has blamed most of the fires on downed power lines and other problems with PG&E’s equipment, leaving the utility with billions in potential financial liabilities.

PG&E decided to cut power after the National Weather Service issued a “red flag warning” for multiple Northern California counties, saying winds could exceed 40 mph.”

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