I-Team questions California Governor Gavin Newsom about PG&E blackouts

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Governor Gavin Newsom is keeping the pressure on PG&E to limit the blackouts, to improve its customer service, and to make improvements to the power grid. I-Team Reporter Dan Noyes spoke with the governor late Tuesday afternoon.

The governor sent a letter to the head of PG&E this afternoon. It's deeply critical of the last, huge blackout two weeks ago, and he is demanding the company make improvements now. Newsom told me this can't be a ten-year process, the way PG&E has described it.

RELATED: Parts of North Bay, San Mateo County preparing for possible PG&E power shutoffs

At a conference in Oakland Tuesday afternoon, Governor Newsom touted the state's role as a clean energy leader. After, we spoke with him about PG&E's decision to plan yet another round of blackouts for this week.

Dan Noyes: "I've seen your letter, what concerns do you have about PG&E's performance?"

Governor Newsom: "My gosh, where do I begin? Let's establish the predicate, for decades they have neglected investing, under-grounding and hardening their infrastructure. We're here because of their greed, we're here because of their mismanagement going back decades."

The governor slammed PG&E for those historic power outages two weeks ago that affected more than 700,000 people, many customers not able to get information from the company about what was happening.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom answers questions about the possible second round of PG&E blackouts.

"They better address their damn website, better address the call center, they better address their communication strategy, they better address the needs of local communities, those who are most vulnerable, seniors and elderly and others, they better do it in a judicious and targeted way."

Dan Noyes asked the governor about a claim from PG&E's president and CEO Bill Johnson Monday night, that the utility has fixed the most serious problems with its grid in high fire threat areas.

RELATED: PG&E Power Outage Shut Off: List of counties, cities affected by Bay Area, California shutdown

"Remember, damage during high winds is possible even though our equipment in high fire threat areas meets or exceeds standards," said Johnson. "We inspected all that equipment earlier this year and we fixed all high priority issues."

Dan Noyes: "Are you confident that they fixed their equipment to the correct extent?"

Governor Newsom: "No, not at all, even by any stretch of the imagination. They have years of investments to make, to suggest somehow they've made those investments and now it's mother nature is not fair, it's not correct and it is extraordinarily misleading."

Governor Newsom again brought up San Diego Gas and Electric which uses targeted blackouts during high fire threats, often with only a few dozen homes involved. PG&E's Bill Johnson has been saying, blackouts will be part of life in Northern California to some extent for at least ten years.

Governor Newsom: "So I sleep with one eye open when it comes to PG&E."

Dan Noyes: "And Johnson is still talking about a 10-year process."

RELATED: Angry reaction to possibility of more blackouts in Bay Area, Northern California this week

Governor Newsom: "Can't happen, 10 years of this cannot happen, will not happen and we are going to aggressively make sure of that and we are still waiting for that rebate that is owed to millions of people in the state and businesses and that is something else that we need to hold PG&E to account for as well."

The governor wants PG&E to reimburse customers for having their power cut; 100-dollars for homes, 250 for small businesses. But late today, PG&E announced they will not give rebates.

For a look at more stories and videos by Dan Noyes and the ABC7 News I-Team.
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