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Friday, April 23, 2021

PG&E to cut power to 5,500 customers in California’s North Bay

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PG&E said it plans to shut off power to roughly 50,000 people in California’s North Bay and other fire-prone areas, according to a person familiar with the utility’s plans.

In an emergency notice to investors, PG&E said it plans to cut off power to customers in certain regions starting on Sunday evening, the person said.

The utility gave no reason for the move.

“We’ve seen weather patterns change so dramatically, and with that, our wildland capacity,” said Keith Stephens, a PG&E spokesman.

Mr. Stephens could not say how many customers in California’s North Bay, which was devastated by the wildfires last month, would be impacted by the power cuts.

Northern California has been buffeted by a series of wildfires during the last several months, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate.

The news comes days after Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Sonoma County, which bore the brunt of the Carr Fire, a blaze that killed six people. The governor said such conditions had made California’s record eight-year drought even worse.

“Without a doubt, climate change is playing a major role in all of this, and the last couple of months prove that,” Mr. Brown said.

In the emergency notice, PG&E said it planned to shut off power until the snow hits on Sunday or later.

According to a regulation with the California Public Utilities Commission, a utility operator may cut power if the fire danger is “extreme” and it deems a crisis exists. A major winter storm is projected for Northern California beginning Sunday.

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