CPUC votes to conduct investigation into PG&E's Public Safety Power Shutoffs

SACRAMENTO (KGO) -- The California Public Utilities Commission Wednesday opened an investigation to examine the recent PG&E Public Safety Power Shut-off events to ensure utilities are held accountable.

The utility proactively de-energized power lines to reduce the risk of utility infrastructure starting wildfires.

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The investigation will assess whether PG&E properly balanced the need to provide safe and reliable services when planning and executing the shut-offs, something residents impacted want to know as well.

"Many Californians are debating about whether California is still safe," said one person who spoke during the public comments section.

The first phase of the investigation will evaluate PG&E's internal coordination, external communication and execution of the shutoffs.

"Hopefully we can come up with some suggestions and solutions to help all communities move forward in Northern California," said Lake County Supervisor Moke Simon.

Nevada City's Mayor says her community also plans to contribute.

"So basically what we're asking for is to put sensors on the lines to be more targeted and not just to do this broad shutoff for days on end," said Nevada City Mayor Reinette Senum.

In an emailed statement to ABC7 News, a PG&E spokesperson writes:

"We appreciate the feedback we've received from our regulator, the governor's office, state agencies, our customers and our communities throughout October's historic weather events and resulting safety shutoffs. We've taken those requests and suggestions seriously, implemented many of them in real time, and are working to implement more for potential future PSPS events.

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While we recognize that the scope of these events is unsustainable in the long term, it was the correct decision for safety given the large-scale, historic weather events and ensuing equipment damage that unfolded across our service area.

We appreciate the offer of ongoing assistance from state agencies and continue to work closely with the representatives from CAL FIRE, Cal OES and the CPUC. We look forward to continuing to work with our regulator on improving the PSPS process and all wildfire-safety related issues in the future."

"An investigation is one thing but when you investigate we want some solutions to the problems," said Simon.

The CPUC says an enforcement phase could be opened if the commission finds non-compliance with CPUC rules and regulations.

The California Public Utilities Commission has also ordered PG&E to demonstrate why it shouldn't be sanctioned for the Public Safety Power Shut-off events.
Go here for the latest stories about the PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs.
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