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California regulators unanimously vote to investigate deliberate power outages

The committee approved the probe into a dozen deliberate power outages by utility PG&E that plunged millions of people into the dark last month.
Sodhi Singh closes up his Chevron station shortly after losing power in Healdsburg, Calif., on Oct. 26, 2019. Pacific Gas & Electric started shutting off power Saturday around 5 p.m. for an estimated 2.35 million people due to forecasts of extreme winds and fire danger.Noah Berger / AP file

SAN FRANCISCO — California regulators have unanimously ordered an investigation into a dozen deliberate power outages that plunged millions of people into the dark last month.

The California Public Utilities Commission voted Wednesday at a short meeting in San Francisco after testimony from people pleading for regulation, planning and leadership.

Pacific Gas & Electric, known as PG&E, instituted multiple rounds of outages meant to prevent its equipment from igniting wildfires in windy weather and affected nearly 2.5 million people throughout Northern California.

The state's largest utility insisted on the shutoffs for public safety, but a parade of public officials complained that the company botched its communications.

Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric 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.