California's utility regulator is launching an investigation into Pacific Gas & Electric's decision to proactively cut power to millions of people in an effort to prevent wildfires.
The California Public Utilities Commission said in its announcement it will look into how PG&E uses Public Safety Power Shutoffs, or PSPS. The commission says it will reexamine PSPS protocol and the actions PG&E and other utilities can take to reduce customer power outages. Some of those include having backup systems, updating equipment so it's less likely to catch fire or spark, and segmenting the power grid so the company can better target the blackouts.
The commission's president said of the investigation, "The state cannot continue to experience PSPS 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."
In just one preventative outage earlier this month, PG&E shutoff power to almost 740,000 customers due to a severe wind event. And more recently, the utility company began cutting power Saturday to 970,000 customers.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom supported the investigation, saying, "Utilities must be held accountable and be aggressively penalized for their overreliance on PSPS, and the product of this investigation must be new rules and regulations to do that."