PG&E Power Outage: Angry reaction to possibility of more blackouts in Bay Area, Northern California this week

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Another possible round of blackouts is drawing angry reaction from ratepayers, and new calls for oversight of PG&E.

LIST: List of counties, cities affected by PG&E power outage in Bay Area, rest of California

It took only two days from that emergency hearing about the last blackouts, for the utility company to announce another one is probably on the way this week.

The reaction to PG&E's announcement of more blackouts, the second round this month, was fast and angry.

Mark Toney from The Utility Reform Network told the I-Team, "What PG&E is supposed to be doing is taking the billions of dollars we have been giving them and trimming the trees and taking care of the grid so we don't have to do shutoffs in the first place."

RELATED: How to prepare for PG&E power shutdowns

Just this past Friday, a parade of PG&E's top executives appeared before the California Public Utilities Commission to defend the blackouts two weeks ago that affected more than 700,000 customers. PG&E President and CEO Bill Johnson described the long-term outlook, for what the company calls Public Safety Power Shutoffs or PSPS.

"Our goal over the next 10 years is to eliminate these kinds of PSPS events," Johnson said Friday. "It will take us some time to do that."

Ten years of blackouts does not sit well with the governor, some state lawmakers and ratepayers. Right now, PG&E tells me these two men make the decision on blackouts, in collaboration with a staff of meteorologists and other experts: Michael Lewis, senior vice president of electric operations, and Sumeet Singh, vice president of asset and risk management.

Now, there are calls for others to have more say in the decision to order blackouts outside of PG&E, perhaps CalFire or the State Office of Emergency Services. The I-Team asked PG&E spokesperson Tamar Sarkissian about that today.

RELATED: A look back at PG&E's history of blackouts

Noyes: "Should PG&E be the only one making this decision?"
Sarkissian: "Um, sorry just a second. I apologize, just give me one moment because I know that's... I might have to get back to you on that because I, I think we have just um, yeah."

Sarkissian told me the company is trying to fix the mistakes of the last blackout, by coordinating with state and local officials more often.

Noyes: "But in terms of actually pulling a switch or flipping the switch, it's PG&E who does that, who makes the final decision correct?"
Sarkissian: "At this time, it is PG&E who makes that decision."

CEO Bill Johnson discussed sharing the responsibility for ordering blackouts.

"For an event like this to really work well, the public has to have confidence in the decision making," he said. "And so I heard a lot of commentary that people didn't have confidence in us making the decision."

RELATED: Governor calls for blackout rebates, state orders emergency hearing

But ratepayer advocate Mark Toney told us Monday, the decision on blackouts should remain with the utility.

"I believe that PG&E desperately wants somebody else to make decisions, so somebody else becomes responsible," he said.

PG&E also told me they are installing devices to divide the grid into smaller segments, so they can target the blackouts to smaller areas. And they're working on the website and call center, where they have had so many problems. But they couldn't tell me how much progress has been made since the last blackouts two weeks ago.

For the latest stories about PG&E's Public Safety Power Shutoff go here.

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

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