Second round of power outages begins in California amid wildfire concerns

California's largest energy provider began another deliberate blackout Wednesday amid concerns of strong winds that could spark wildfires that have devasted communities across the states in recent years.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said the 48-hour power outage was to affect nearly 180,000 homes and businesses in portions of 17 counties in the Sierra foothills and north of the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Santa Rosa Fire Department tweeted that shutoffs had started in the city and it was getting multiple reports of outages.

"Public Safety Power Shutoffs have begun in Santa Rosa. We have multiple reports of outages from the Rincon Valley and Oakmont Areas," the department wrote.

The utility previously cut off power from Oct. 9-12 to more than 2 million people across the Bay Area to prevent high winds from toppling lines that could then spark deadly wildfires like one that did massive amounts of damage last year.


A power shutoff earlier this month leaves Salvador Espinosa with little to do but sweep up at Mary's Pizza Shack in Santa Rosa, Calif.

A power shutoff earlier this month leaves Salvador Espinosa with little to do but sweep up at Mary's Pizza Shack in Santa Rosa, Calif.

The new rolling blackouts have elicited frustration from residents and business owners and have spurred purchases of batteries, generators and other emergency supplies.

"Working this close to the last outage is going to be a true trial by fire," said Garrett Sanders, owner of Love Birds Coffee & Tea in the old Gold Rush town of Placerville.

Sanders said he lost around $6,000 in the last outage. He said he planned to brew coffee and stock up on pastries for a sidewalk sale.

He sympathized with the argument that the outages are designed to prevent more devastating wildfires. Some Placerville residents relocated from Paradise, a town leveled by last year's fast-moving Camp Fire.

Not everyone is as understanding, however. Angry customers took things further in the earlier power outage, with a PG&E office in Oroville vandalized with eggs.

Authorities were also investigating an attack in which a PG&E utility truck was shot in Colusa County, and the wife of one utility worked pleaded with the public to not lash out at workers.


California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a letter to Bill Johnson, PG&E's CEO, the utility has failed to upgrade and maintain its equipment, resulting in the massive blackouts and the inconvenience to customers.

"I believe the unacceptable scope and duration of the previous outage — deliberately forcing 735,000 customers to endure power outages — was the direct result of decades of PG&E prioritizing profit over public safety," Newsom wrote

PG&E has denied the blackouts are about saving money in the wake of a string of lawsuits over its role in last year's fires.

Fox News' Travis Fedschun and The Associated Press contributed to this report.