California regulators to open inquiry into power outages

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California regulators are voting Wednesday on whether to open an investigation into pre-emptive power outages that blacked out large parts of the state for much of October as strong winds sparked fears of wildfires.

The state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., initiated multiple rounds of shut-offs that plunged nearly 2.5 million people into darkness throughout northern and central California.

PG&E officials insisted on the shut-offs to prevent wildfires but a parade of public officials complained the company botched its communications.

Southern California Edison Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. also shut off power but to far fewer people.

California Public Utilities Commission President Marybel Batjer ordered the investigation, saying the state cannot continue to experience widespread blackouts.

A vote by the five-member commission is required.

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AP Business Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this report.

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