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PG&E Announces New Potential Safety Outages In NorCal

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Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio
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A patron sits at Szabo Vineyards Tasting Room in historic Nevada City with the lights off following the PG&E power shut off in early October.

Pacific Gas and Electric announced it could shut off power in parts of 15 counties in the Sierra Foothills and North Bay starting Wednesday to protect against its equipment starting wildfires.

The shut off is expected to affect more than 200,000 customers. It comes two weeks after the utility cut power to more than 700,000 customers — around 2 million people — across 34 counties in one of its largest preventative outages. 

That blackout has led to intense criticism for the utility from customers, regulators and California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Speaking in front of the state Public Utilities Commission last week, PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said power shutoffs could continue for another decade as the utility works to upgrade its equipment.

PG&E began a policy of cutting power to prevent fires in October of last year, one month before the Camp Fire killed 84 people in Butte County. That fire has since been blamed on PG&E equipment, which the utility decided not to shut off in the hours preceding it.

The National Weather Service is forecasting strong winds and dry conditions starting Wednesday into Thursday, with extremely dry conditions through Friday. Another round of dry windy weather is possible Sunday through early next week.

This week's planned shutoff could affect residents in Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Joaquin, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo and Yuba counties.

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