In California, hundreds of thousands of customers without electricity in fire prevention

Preventative cuts are Thursday in San Francisco, northern and southern California. State Governor Gavin Newsom accuses PG & E operator of "negligence".

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Firefighters are trying to extinguish the Sandalwood fire in Calimesa, California on Thursday, October 10th. Jennifer Cappuccio Maher / AP

Due to weather forecasts for severe forest fires, hundreds of thousands of customers were still without electricity on Thursday evening, October 10, near San Francisco and northern California by preventative cuts, decided the day before by the American operator Pacific Gas & Electric (PG & E). Unprecedented in California, they potentially involved 800,000 customers in the north of the state, about two million people, warned the company PG & E, whose high voltage lines had caused last year l the most deadly fire in the history of the state.

After the first service interruptions on Wednesday morning, a second phase was set up around San Francisco, in densely populated areas, disrupting daily activities and businesses and provoking strong criticism.

Similar measures have begun to take effect in the south of the state – operator Edison has decreed cuts affecting some 13,000 customers – where wildfires fanned by strong winds have traveled several hundred hectares Thursday , destroying homes and causing the evacuation of certain areas.

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Pacific Gas & Electric accused of "mismanagement"

"No state in the XXIe century should know cuts "Of such magnitude", Thursday night the California governor, Gavin Newsom, blaming the fault on PG & E and decades of "Negligence" and of " mismanagement " network, insufficiently modernized. "What happened in the last 48 hours is unacceptable", he said, stressing, however, that preventive cuts of high-voltage lines in the event of dangerous weather conditions were part of " good practices " industry, which help to prevent disasters.

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"The decision to cut off the power supply is in line with forecasts of dry, hot, windy weather and the potential for fire." driven by high winds, had justified the operator Wednesday. Pointed out for its outdated facilities and inadequate maintenance of vegetation around power lines, PG & E went bankrupt in January.

She faces billions of dollars in potential debts because of her responsibility in the Camp Fire which devastated the Californian village of Paradise in November 2018, killing at least 86 people and destroying 18,000 buildings. The weather was similar at the time to what is currently happening in northern California, a region that has been hit by forest fires several times in recent years. Last month, the company announced the payment of $ 11 billion to insurance companies that compensated victims of Camp Fire.

Thursday morning, PG & E restored power for 137,000 customers. But others may be forced to wait several days, the time for the operator to inspect his facilities once the alert has passed. The cost of 48 hours of power cuts could reach $ 2.6 billion in total, CNW's Michael Wara, an expert on energy and climate policy at Stanford University told CNN.

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