SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Pacific Gas & Electric Company said Thursday that it would not preemptively cut power to tens of thousands of customers in several Northern California counties over the potential risk for wildfires.

In a written statement, PG&E said weather conditions did not warrant the utility to launch its Public Safety Power Shutoff program.

“We know how much our customers rely on electric service, and we will only consider temporarily turning off power in the interest of safety and as a last resort during extreme weather conditions to reduce the risk of wildfire,” said Pat Hogan, the company’s senior vice president of electric operations.

On Wednesday, the utility notified about 70,000 customers in eight counties that they could lose power if conditions warranted. Customers in fire-ravaged Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties were on the utility’s list.

The late hour of the outage cancellation had many in the North Bay saying there has to be a better way to reduce fire risk for the utility.

“If you’re a business owner, you need to know whether you’re going to have power for your business expectations,” said Yountville Town Manager Steven Rogers. “Two hours notice may not be appropriate, especially if you’re a restaurant or a market. What do you do? How long is it going to be?”

Last month, the utility faced criticism after preemptively shutting down electricity to 42,000 customers during high fire danger conditions.

Parts of the Bay Area and Northern California were under a Red Flag Warning on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Camp Fire east of Chico has scorched nearly 20,000 acres as of Thursday afternoon and has prompted the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.


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