The Latest: Utilities president blasts PG&E over outages

FILE - In this July 23, 2019, file photo, Marybel Batjer, of the California Public Utilities Commission, speaks during a news conference as Gov. Gavin Newsom looks on in Sacramento, Calif. California's utility regulator is issuing a series of sanctions against Pacific Gas and Electric for what it calls "failures in execution" during the largest planned power shut-off in state history to avoid wildfires. Batjer said Monday, Oct. 14, 2019, the utility needs to have a goal of restoring power within 12 hours instead of its current 48 hours, minimize the scale of future outages and better communicate with the public and local officials. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2019, file photo, Salvador Espinosa sweeps in the kitchen of a Mary's Pizza Shack restaurant during a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. power shutdown in Santa Rosa, Calif. The California Senate will investigate a California utility's process for cutting off power to more than 2 million people to prevent wildfires. In a memo to the Senate Democratic Caucus on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins asked the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee to "begin investigating and reviewing options to address the serious deficiencies" with PG&E's current process of shutting off power to prevent wildfires. (Christopher Chung/The Press Democrat via AP, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 9, 2019, file photo, CVS Pharmacy shift supervisor James Quinn throws out ice cream from darkened freezers as downtown Sonoma, Calif., remains without power. California's utility regulator is issuing a series of sanctions against Pacific Gas and Electric for what it calls "failures in execution" during the largest planned power shut-off in state history to avoid wildfires. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 10, 2019, file photo, Senior program analyst Siva Jasti works next to a map of California in the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Emergency Operations Center in San Francisco. The California Senate will investigate a California utility's process for cutting off power to more than 2 million people to prevent wildfires. In a memo to the Senate Democratic Caucus on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins asked the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee to "begin investigating and reviewing options to address the serious deficiencies" with PG&E's current process of shutting off power to prevent wildfires. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

SAN FRANCISCO — The Latest on a massive power shut-off last week in Northern California (all times local):

3:15 p.m.

California's top utilities regulator says she's astounded by the lack of basic preparation Pacific Gas & Electric officials took in readying for a pre-emptive power shut-off that affected more than 2 million people.

California Public Utilities Commission President Marybel Batjer said at an emergency meeting Friday that the utility failed on so many levels on simple matters.

PG&E shut off power to 700,000 customer accounts as a wildfire prevention method. Customers complained of overloaded call centers and a website that crashed throughout the Oct. 9 event.

Local officials said they were left in the dark as well.

___

2:07 p.m.

The chief executive of California's largest utility says it will take about a decade for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to get to the point where widespread safety outages are not necessary when fire danger is high.

PG&E Corp. CEO Bill Johnson told state regulators Friday he expects the utility to get better with each new pre-emptive outage as it works to upgrade its equipment so blackouts affect fewer people.

Appearing before an emergency meeting of the California Public Utilities Commission, Johnson said the Oct. 9 outage was the right call but said the utility could have done much better executing it.

PG&E shut off power to more than 2 million people last week because of fears that dangerous winds could knock down utility equipment and spark wildfires.

Customers complained of overloaded call centers and a crashing website that made getting information difficult.

___

12:15 a.m.

Top executives of California's largest utility are expected at an emergency meeting Friday to answer questions by state regulators about a massive pre-emptive power shutdown last week that has been criticized as poorly executed and unacceptable.

The meeting of the California Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco comes as outrage grows against Pacific Gas & Electric Co. The utility cut off power to more than 2 million people in northern and central California Oct. 9, saying that high wind forecasts could have damaged equipment and sparked wildfires.

In a letter to PG&E chief executive Bill Johnson issued earlier this week, commission President Marybel Batjer scolded the utility for an "unacceptable situation" and ordered a series of corrective actions, including a goal of restoring power within 12 hours, not the utility's current 48-hour goal.

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