OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — PG&E officials faced tough questions from their customers at an open house held in Oakland Monday meant to educate people about the utility company’s plan to expand its controversial Public Safety Power Shutdown (PSPS).
The plan would cut power to any of PG&E’s five-million customers during high fire danger. PG&E said the goal is to minimize risk of a catastrophic wildfire like the Camp Fire.READ MORE: COVID Reopening Day: San Francisco Businesses Thankful To Have Survived Pandemic
The public open house was held in a Marriott Hotel in Oakland.
“We understand it is a lot to ask of our customers, but we know this is the right step for safety for our communities,” said PG&E spokesperson Tamar Sarkissian.
But Marji McWee, who is wheelchair bound, worried it’s the wrong plan for people like herself, who are disabled.
“I’m worried about the people left behind,” McWee told a PG&E employee.
McWee said she and her friends came to the open house to talk about the impact that power outages would have on vulnerable communities, including those who rely on electric wheelchairs, respirators and medicine that must be refrigerated.
Oakland resident Howard Matis came armed with a series of questions.READ MORE: Vallejo Fire Crews Respond to 4-Alarm Brush Fire Involving 2 Homes
“How big of an area will be shut down?” he asked. “How many people would [be affected]? Would it be 2,000? 3,000? A million?”
But Matis said PG&E representatives could not answer his questions.
“I talked to someone and they told me they’d get back to me,” Matis said. “But they don’t know this information.”
It’s not only customers who are concerned. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is calling for more oversight of the PG&E plan.
“Frankly, we have reason not to trust PG&E,” Liccardo said bluntly.
PG&E customer Constance Slider-Pierre said she is grateful that the utility company is communicating with the public, but has reservations.
“It’s great for them to be out here trying to educate the community. But I’m not confident the plan is fully well-baked,” said Slider-Pierre.MORE NEWS: COVID Reopening: San Franciscans Hopeful as City Drops Pandemic Restrictions
PG&E will host additional open houses in other communities. The next one is Thursday, July 11, in Walnut Creek.