PG&E Not Committing to Expanding Tree-Trimming Force in California

Lawyers for Pacific Gas & Electric said the utility can’t commit to hiring hundreds more tree trimmers in the way that a federal judge wants to cut the risk of starting more catastrophic wildfires in California.

U.S. District Judge William Alsap ordered the utility last month to add at least 1,100 more tree trimmers to help prevent trees and branches from falling onto its power lines and igniting. The judge is overseeing PG&E’s criminal probation imposed after its natural gas lines blew up a San Francisco Bay Area neighborhood and killed eight people in 2010. He has taken a strong interest in PG&E’s safety record after the company’s power lines started a series of wildfires that killed 130 people and destroyed thousands of homes.

PG&E Cuts Power to 50K California Homes And Businesses During Wildfire Risk

About 50,000 homes and businesses across Northern California were without power on Wednesday during the latest planned outage instituted by utility Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to guard against risk of wildfire during dry, windy weather.

The precautionary shutoffs included considerably fewer customers than originally projected as a spokeswoman for the utility said improving weather conditions allowed them to keep the lights on in many areas.

900,000 Californians Prepare for Another Blackout Wednesday

(TNS) — More than 900,000 people in 25 California counties — including every Bay Area county but San Francisco — could lose power starting Wednesday as windy, dry conditions will greatly increase fire risk.

PG&E said Monday that 303,000 homes and businesses — each one roughly equivalent to 3 people — could be impacted as the company tries to stop its power lines from starting more fires. In the Bay Area, about 115,000 homes and businesses, equivalent to 345,000 people, could be impacted.

PG&E Warns of Possible Northern California Blackouts at Mid-Week

PG&E Corp. is warning a quarter-million homes and businesses could lose power in northern California starting Wednesday as high winds return to the region.

A fire weather watch has been issued by the National Weather Service for parts of northern California from late Tuesday night to Thursday morning. PG&E said in a statement overnight it may cut power to customers in the North Bay, North Valley and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada due to the forecast.

Latest PG&E Power Shutdown Left Marin County, Calif., with Safety Concerns

(TNS) - Last month’s power shutdowns by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. left nagging questions about Marin County’s communications system and whether senior housing facilities in the county are prepared for the next shutdown.

On Oct. 27, when PG&E switched off electricity to most of Marin, nearly 50 percent of the county’s cell phone transmission sites failed. The next day 57 percent of the cell sites, 134 transmitters, were down in Marin, and the day after that more than 35 percent of the sites remained offline. No other county in the state had its communications system disrupted to this extent by the power outage.

California Unveils New Earthquake Warning System

California governor Gavin Newsom announced a new state-wide system, created in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey, that will provide California residents with an early warning for coming earthquakes. Part of the system is an emergency messaging system that sends text warnings, similar to those that cell phone users already get for floods and missing persons. The other component of the system is a new app called MyShake, which will give people “tens of seconds” advance notice before a quake strikes. If you are in a house, that might be enough time to get to a safe spot away from falling furniture. If you are on the road, it may be enough time to pull off the road or stop before a bridge or tunnel.

What’s Next: Will PG&E Blackouts Happen Again in California?

(TNS) — The inventory of woes from last week’s PG&E’s power shutdown across Northern and Central California continues to come in:

Students at UC Berkeley worrying that the intentional outage may have resulted in the loss of two years of research into fighting drug-resistant forms of cancer. Businesses that lost income from the cutoff even as PG&E’s website crash sowed widespread confusion and chaos. Reports of vehicle collisions at intersections where the power to traffic lights had been cut. And scores of elderly people and others whose lives are dependent on electricity living through desperate hours of wondering how they’d manage to get by until power was restored.

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