Utility lacked basic training before blackouts

California Wildfires Power Shutoffs
Posted at 8:26 AM, Oct 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-18 11:26:46-04

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — When Pacific Gas & Electric intentionally cut power to Northern California last fall, few of its emergency managers had learned the fundamentals of managing an emergency in their home state.

The nation’s largest utility entered 2019 planning to “de-energize” its aging electric grid so downed power lines couldn’t spark ablaze.

Yet only a handful of the hundreds of people who handled the blackouts were trained in the disaster response playbook used in California.

The October 2019 outages brought chaos. By contrast, three power shutoffs this fall have been smoother after most of the emergency managers completed the training.