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PG&E agrees to pay customers left in the dark during outages

But the rebates will cover only one of the utility’s series of induced blackouts

A worker in a hardhat and yellow vest using a crane to reach power lines during an inspection.
Inspecting lines near Geyserville on Thursday.
Photo by PHILIP PACHECO/AFP via Getty Images

Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) said this week it will cede to demands that it pay potentially tens of millions of dollars to homes and businesses affected by its premeditated outages in October.

The reparations apply only to one blackout incident—the first one, which started on October 9—but Gov. Gavin Newsom suggested that the payout wasn’t enough.

On Thursday, Newsom told a CBS affiliate in Sacramento that the rebates are “the basic and bare minimum” that PG&E should do. He also said that the utility company “initially resisted” the idea.

In a statement released Tuesday, PG&E President Bill Johnson said, “We understand that power shutoffs are more than an inconvenience for our customers” and announced the company will give $100 credits to residential customers and $250 to businesses who lost power.

Johnson said nothing about the more recent series of outages from the final weeks of October.

More than 700,000 people lost power during the October 9 outages, meaning that the bankrupt utility may be on the hook for the equivalent of tens of millions of dollars in expenses.

Not coincidentally, the $100 and $250 pay rate is identical to the one suggested by Newsom in a letter to Johnson two weeks ago.

Although Newsom framed the message in the form of a request—and did not explicitly attempt to force the company’s hand—it seems Johnson and company decided it was wise to implement the idea.

Late Thursday, the company announced that it had restored power to “essentially all customers” throughout the Bay Area and beyond after the latest round of outages earlier in the week, which followed right on the heels of shutoffs during the weekend, leaving some people without power for five days or more.

In all some 1.1 million people, including over 200,000 households in the Bay Area, lost power during one or both of the outages.

The company continues to tout the shutoffs as a necessary anti-wildfire measure.