— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on October 11, 2019, Friday.
The massive power outrage in Northern and Central California has lasted for 2 days.
According to PG&E's plan, it will cut on Monday for as many as 800,000 customers, totaling about 2.7million people, that forced some businesses and schools to close, including University of California Berkeley has closed for 2 straight days, it was reported that more than 32,000 of PG&E's customers facing blackouts have special energy needs because of medical conditions. Outages could last longer than 48 hours, even may last for 5 days, but the specific time depends on weather, so PG&E suggests customers to prepare in advance.
During the outage period, PG&E will conduct inspection to its service infrastructure to prevent fires caused by high temperature, drought and windy weather. The Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment estimated that the economic cost of the power shutdown could reach $2.5 billion. The power cuts bring direct impact to residential customer as well as the owners of small business. We know that in recent years, the wildfire happens oftentimes in dry season in Cali, so this time is preventative power cut.
Camp Fire, which happened in Nov last year, killed 86 people and was Cali's deadliest fire on record, causing around $16.5b economic loss. Authorities determined the fire was started by PG&E's power line, which was in poor repair and maintenance, that created a huge debt burden for PG&E. In January, PG&E filed for bankruptcy protection, saying it's facing more than $30b in liabilities.
Barton Thompson, Professor at Stanford University, said in an interview that all these factors make PG&E very prudent now, it cuts power preventatively to avoid fire and respond to the criticization from regulatory and the public. Even tough the power outage comes with skepticism.
Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, expressed his support to PG&E when interviewed with Los Angeles Times, saying this move is in the public interest to protect people.
California wildfires have been hard to prevent in recent years, some says this preventative power cut may become very normal in Cali.