Pacific Gas and Electric’s CEO Bill Johnson said it could be about 10 years before the utility reaches the point where widespread outages are not necessary when fire danger is high.
Johnson appeared before an emergency meeting of the California Public Utilities Commission on Friday.
He said the shutoffs will continue until micro-grids and covered lines are put in place, but expects that the utility will get better with each outage, decreasing in size and scope. The CEO also denied that the utility initiated a shutoff to “save their own skin,” but did it for public safety. Johnson said it was the right call, but it could have been done better.
A PG&E executive said the company realizes the power restoration benchmark is unacceptable, and in the future the utility will aim for 48 hour power restoration.
The president of the commission, Marybel Batjer, said at the meeting that the utility failed on many levels on simple matters. She said she was astounded by the lack of basic preparation officials took before the shutoff.
PG&E shut off power to more than 2 million people last week because of fears that dangerous winds could knock down utility equipment and spark wildfires. Customers complained that overloaded call centers and a crashing website made it difficult to get information.
KION and AP 2019