(CNN) — Power is back on for 98% of the Northern California customers left in the dark when Pacific Gas & Electric cut off electricity to prevent wildfires.
The utility intentionally shut off power to almost 800,000 customers in Northern California on Wednesday to prevent wildfires caused by high winds downing live power equipment. It said it has since restored power for 98% of affected customers — with about 13,000 people still in the dark Friday night.
“This is not … a climate change story as much as a story about greed and mismanagement over the course of decades,” Newsom said. “Neglect, a desire to advance not public safety but profits.”
The financial impact of the shutoff has been devastating.
San Jose city said it lost at least half a million dollars and the number is expected to go up. The estimate includes supplies and fuel costs for generators, Deputy City Manager Kip Harkness said. Mayor Sam Liccardo said they expect some compensation from PG&E for the public cost.
Tod Pickett, who operates a sports memorabilia shop in Placerville, estimated he’s lost thousands of dollars.
“When the wind blows we have to turn the power off,” Pickett said. “It’s crazy … people are losing food, people are losing revenue for not being able to work.”
If the power is off for two days, it could cost up to $2.6 billion, according to Michael Wara, the director of the Climate and Energy Policy Program at Stanford University’s Woods Institute.
“This is very disruptive to people’s lives and businesses to not have electric power. An economy as large as California’s, when you black out a significant fraction of the state, there are going to be large economic impacts.”
Critics say PG&E is getting away with inconveniencing its customers and costing businesses instead of upgrading its infrastructure to prevent fires.