California forced to cut power to reduce fire risk

For Californians, the fire season now rhymes with power cuts. Cutbacks decided and assumed by the main operator of this State. In a statement, the Pacific Gas and Electricity Company (PG&E), which is the largest supplier in California, in fact announced that as of Tuesday evening, 16 counties north of San Francisco would be affected and that near 20. 000 of its customers could be deprived of power. The exact number of people likely to be affected could be greater and exceed 86. . , based on census data on persons per household in California.

In question, the strong winds that stoke the Dixie fire, the second largest forest fire ever recorded in California , now joined by another fire, “Caldor”, smaller but become one of the main threats . However, these winds are a threat to the power lines of PG&E.

PG&E behind the fire of the deadliest in California If this is the first time this year that PG&E has decided to cut the power, this practice has become usual for the operator. By cutting off the power, the operator tries to prevent the wind from damaging his installations and power lines. And cause new fires to start. Even though it was the fall of a tree on one of its power lines that would have triggered the Dixie Fire.

In October 2019, for example, the PG&E , had plunged more than 2.7 million users into the dark. A method then strongly criticized by the governor of California because the decision to cut the current is above all motivated by the dilapidated state of the company’s facilities: it is indeed a spark caused by one of its high voltage lines that triggered in November 2018 the deadliest fire in state history. At the time, 48 people were dead and 18. 000 buildings had been destroyed in the Paradise area.

Regularly criticized by elected officials and consumers, the company has so far failed to resolve its problems. But she recently announced that she plans to bury more than 000. 000 km of power lines to minimize the risk of fires. Work that could cost him more than 20 billions of dollars.

Increase in the electricity bill Investments that could cause consumers’ bills to soar, figuratively speaking. To fund fire protection, PG&E asked state regulators to increase the electricity tariff. Which, according to some calculations, could induce an increase of 430 dollars per year between 2020 and 2026.

This will not necessarily solve all the users’ problems because fires are not the only one reason that leads to power cuts. During the summer heatwave 2020 , the Californian authorities had requested electricity suppliers to cut electricity for thousands of homes, due to high demand and poor availability of renewable energies.