Sunday, October 20, 2019 - 05:45

(TNS) - California residents face up to 10 years of widespread, precautionary forced power shut-offs until Pacific Gas & Electric Corp., the bankrupt utility giant, will be able to prevent its power transmission lines from sparking fires, the company’s top official said.

The sobering projection came from company Chief Executive William D. Johnson at an emergency meeting Friday of the California Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco.

While the need for widespread shutdowns should lessen every year, Johnson told commissioners, “I think this is probably a 10-year timeline to get to a point where it’s really ratcheted down significantly.”

Between June and early October, PG&E carried out four power shut-offs. The largest — and most criticized — was from Oct. 9 through Oct. 12, affecting 738,000 customers in 35 counties radiating out from the Sacramento area.

Food spoiled, traffic signals died, cellphones faded out. Schools and businesses came to a standstill and frustrations grew into concerns over safety as hospitals switched to emergency generators.

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