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California Utilities Face Fines Related To 2020 Planned Power Outages

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Sacramento, CA– California utilities will be facing some fines in the amount of $22 million for the “poor execution” of the widespread power shutoff that took place in 2020 that was implemented to prevent devastating wildfires. Public Utilities Commission announced $12 million in fines against PG&E, $10 million against Southern California Edison, and $24,000 against San Diego Gas & Electric. The companies were ordered to not only pay the fines but additionally take action to streamline public safety and notification requirements.

All three companies have faced criticism for handling public safety power shutoffs designed to de-energize power lines during dry, hot, and windy weather to prevent a wildfire. PG&E was singled out for a shutoff that left nearly 2 million people in the Bay Area and Northern California without power. People were unable to get information with websites and call centers rendered nonoperational and local officials lacking information to give to the public. This wasn’t the first fine PG&E has faced because of this issue, in 2019 they were fined $106 million for violating guidelines during the fall 2019 power shut-offs.

It was noted by the Public Utilities Commission that steps had been made in the right direction with later shutoffs being more smooth but violations were still found.