PG&E plans more power cutoffs, warns of severe weather this week

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(Reuters) - PG&E Corp said it was considering more power cutoffs, which would be much smaller than the recent outage, as the bankrupt California power producer warned about severe weather risks later this week.

The company said it activated its emergency operations on Sunday night to keep an eye for a possible “strong and dry offshore” wind likely to hit 17 counties across northern and southern California later this week.

PG&E is considering implementing a public safety power shutoff (PSPS) and turning off power across portions of the counties, adding that as of late Sunday no PSPS had been called.

The potential power cutoffs will be “significantly smaller” than the Oct 9-12 PSPS event, the company said.

The primary phase of weather risk is expected to last about 18 to 24 hours from Wednesday evening through the middle of Thursday, according to the statement issued on Sunday.

PG&E’s handling of recent power outages has been criticized for being conducted on too large a scale with insufficient communication with customers.

The company cut off electricity to more than 730,000 homes and workplaces in northern California earlier this month in a bid to reduce wildfire risks posed by extremely windy and dry weather.

The outage was the latest one in a string of many for which PG&E has received widespread public criticism. The utility filed for bankruptcy in January, citing potential civil liabilities in excess of $30 billion from major wildfires linked to its transmission wires and other equipment.

Reporting by Debayan Sinha in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich