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PG&E Cuts Power In California To Avoid Sparking Wildfires


More people in California are waking up today without power. That includes major cities like Oakland and San Jose. The state's largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, is continuing to deliberately shut off power to communities across northern California. So far, about 700,000 customers are affected. Lily Jamali from member station KQED has the latest.

LILY JAMALI, BYLINE: The usually bustling tourist hub of Sausalito, just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, was quiet Wednesday night as many residents adjusted to a new reality - life without power.

The main intersection that brings you into the town of Sausalito has a traffic signal that's not working right now, and there is a sign up that says, PG&E PSPS - that stands for public safety power shutoffs. That's what they're calling them. And then it says, be safe, drive slow.

PG&E says it's shutting down power as dry, windy conditions have prompted concerns that its equipment could spark another major wildfire like last year's Camp Fire, which left 85 people dead. PG&E vice president for wildfire safety, Sumeet Singh, addressed reporters at an evening briefing.


SUMEET SINGH: We took this step to ensure the safety of our customers and our communities as a last resort, and we're committed to reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire events.

JAMALI: But outside a 7-Eleven on Sausalito's bridgeway, Renee Asuncion (ph) spent Wednesday night in her car in her bathrobe with her son Malachi in the passenger seat. They made the five-minute drive from nearby Marin City to pick up snacks as $150 worth of recently purchased groceries spoils at their home, where the power's been off all day.

RENEE ASUNCION: I work, and I don't make a lot of money. All that $150 - am I going to get that back? I don't have money like that.

JAMALI: And the prospect of several more days of no power only frustrates her more.

For NPR News, I'm Lily Jamali in Sausalito, Calif. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lily Jamali