California regulator to investigate utilities' mass fire-prevention power outages

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The California Public Utilities Commission on Monday said it would open a formal investigation of wide-scale precautionary power outages imposed by several utilities this month as high winds posed heightened wildfire risks across the state.

The investigation, recommended by the commission’s safety and enforcement division, came after more than 1 million homes and businesses were left without electricity on Monday, most of those from planned “public safety power shut-offs” carried out on an unprecedented scale.

The bulk of the shut-offs were implemented by Pacific Gas and Electric Co, a unit of PG&E Corp (N:), California’s largest investor-owned utility, which filed for bankruptcy in January citing some $30 billion in civil liabilities it faced from deadly wildfires sparked by its equipment in 2017 and 2018.

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