California utilities say wind-driven outages possible

AP, LOS ANGELES

Wed, Oct 17, 2018 - Page 7

California utilities were restoring electricity after intentionally cutting it to tens of thousands of people because of extreme fire danger, but high winds projected to sweep the area into yesterday morning could cause more outages.

Winds strong enough to topple trees and down power lines killed one woman on Monday and brought a renewed threat of fire to parched California only months after wildfires devastated the north.

In an unprecedented move, Pacific Gas & Electric Co (PG&E) on Sunday night began cutting power in Northern California. About 60,000 customers were affected.

The utility expected to have about 70 percent of them back in service before dawn yesterday.

However, the US National Weather Service issued an advisory that winds gusting up to 81kph at times would continue over foothill and mountain areas east and north of Sacramento, including the Sierras, Shasta County and other rural areas.

PG&E had previously announced its plan to shut off power preemptively after authorities blamed its power lines for sparking some of California’s most destructive wildfires.

The utility expects to pay billions of US dollars in wildfire damages and has sought ways to limit its liability through the courts and legislature.

San Diego Gas & Electric on Monday morning turned off the juice to more than 300 customers in foothill areas near Cleveland National Forest, where multiple blazes have scorched large swaths of land in recent years.

Electricity was restored by evening after crews had checked out the lines.