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The California Public Utilities Commission is expected to open an investigation into Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s public safety power shutoffs at its meeting Wednesday in San Francisco.

After previously questioning PG&E officials on Oct. 18, the commission is taking a series of steps to limit the repetition of the shutoffs in the future, according to a press release from the commission. One of those steps includes an investigation into whether PG&E complied with the commission’s regulations during the shutoffs.

“The state cannot continue to experience (public safety power shutoff) events on the scope and scale Californians have experienced this month, nor should Californians be subject to the poor execution that PG&E in particular has exhibited,” said commission President Marybel President Batjer in the release.

The commission will demand that utilities better prepare for and execute the shutoffs “in a way that greatly reduces impacts on Californians,” Batjer said.

“The purpose of this investigation is to investigate whether California’s investor owned utilities’ actions to de-energize their electric facilities during hazardous weather conditions properly balance the need to provide reliable service with public safety,” the Wednesday meeting’s agenda states. If any violations are found, the commission “may consider taking action.”

In addition to launching a formal investigation, the commission is also expected to: evaluate how utilities use power shutoffs; ensure customers don’t get charged for the days they were without energy; direct PG&E to expand wildfire mitigation plans for 2020; and put together a panel of experts who will determine through data modeling and other technology how to minimize future power shutoffs.

At the Oct. 18 meeting, PG&E officials revealed that the power shutoff was unnecessary in Humboldt County during the Oct. 9 event.

“PG&E needs to ensure that all circuits, especially within the (public safety power shutoff) footprint, are in-service,” PG&E’s report on the Oct. 9-12 shutoff states. “Some lines were out-of-service due to maintenance or other issues and resulted in customers in Humboldt County being de-energized when they did not need to be.”

Utility companies are required to submit a report on the power shutoff within 10 days, but the report for the Oct. 26 shutoff event is not yet available online.

Because of the size of PG&E’s service territory, “the design of its transmission and distribution network, and the lack of granularity of its forecasting ability, PG&E cannot activate (public safety power shutoff) events as strategically as other California utilities, Batjer wrote in an Oct. 14 letter sent to PG&E.

Despite that, PG&E still needs to “better prioritize its fire hardening and wildfire mitigation work” to reduce the shutoffs’ impacts, Batjer wrote.

North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire released a press release following the commission’s questioning of PG&E stating that the utility company had become “too big and has failed us too many times.”

“All options need to be on the table — including breaking up the utility,” McGuire said in the statement.

You can find California Public Utilities Commission agendas, meeting videos and power shutoff reports online at https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/.

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