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    By DON THOMPSON | The Associated Press SACRAMENTO — Extraordinary use of electricity has long been a telltale sign of illegal grow houses producing thousands of marijuana plants hidden in seemingly ordinary homes. But a lawsuit filed by a data privacy watchdog says a Northern California utility went too far by racially profiling Asian communities as it routinely fed customers’ power use information to police without requiring a warrant or any suspicion of wrongdoing, in violation of state laws. The data disclosure deliberately targeted Asian Americans, with resulting disproportionate penalties against those of Asian descent, the suit says. The suit illustrates a flashpoint in law enforcement’s efforts to combat illicit drugs. In 2018, federal and state law enforcement agents seized about 100 Northern California houses that they alleged were bought with money wired to the United States by a Chinese-based crime organization, one of many such actions against alleged perpetrators of Asian descent. Earlier this year Asian Americans filed at least two lawsuits against Siskiyou County’s sheriff alleging racial bias particularly against the Hmong community in his department’s effort to...
    Residents in Northern California allege that sparks from PacifiCorp’s high-voltage transmission lines and other equipment are what ignited the deadly McKinney fire last month near the California-Oregon border in Siskiyou County, according to a lawsuit filed earlier this week. The McKinney fire has burned more than 60,000 acres in rural Siskiyou County since it began on July 29. Four people died as the fire swept through the area, and hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed, according to authorities. The official cause of the fire, which is 95% contained, remains under investigation. PacifiCorp, which is owned by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy holding company, operates an electrical grid across Oregon, Washington and Northern California. The utility company reported to California regulators that it operates a power line that runs near Highway 96 in Siskiyou County where where the McKinney fire is thought to have started from, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported. Residents whose homes and property were destroyed or damaged in the fire claim the utility company “negligently, recklessly, and willfully failed” to inspect and...
    By Mark Chediak | Bloomberg Western U.S. utility giant PG&E Corp.  and automaker General Motors Co. are working together to see if electric vehicles can be tapped as a source of backup power for homes in Northern California.The companies plan to start testing the ability of a GM battery-powered autos to supply electricity to a residence at a lab owned by PG&E, according to a joint statement Tuesday from the companies.  PG&E and GM said they aim to expand the pilot project to a small number of homes by year end. The goal is to demonstrate how an EV could be used to power a home if it loses electricity from the grid, Aaron August, PG&E’s vice president of business development, told media in a call. Related Articles PG&E bills may jump $30 a month: new wildfire plan Computer error leads to phantom PG&E outage for East Bay towns Letters: PG&E infrastructure | EDD’s options | Soft on history | Low birthrates | Tomorrow’s leaders Letters: Raiders’ lesson | Shine a light...
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Pacific Gas & Electric power lines sparked last summer's Dixie Fire in Northern California that swept through five counties and burned more than 1,300 homes and other buildings, state fire officials said Tuesday.The blaze was caused by a tree hitting electrical distribution lines west of a dam in the Sierra Nevada, where the blaze began on July 13, according to investigators with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.Cal Fire said its investigative report was sent to the Butte County district attorney's office, which will determine whether criminal charges should be filed.PG&E didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.RELATED: Dixie Fire evacuees getting help from survivors of 2018 Camp FireThe finding was no surprise. PG&E has been blamed for several of California's largest and deadliest wildfires in recent years and already had indicated its equipment may have been involved in the Dixie Fire, which burned nearly 1 million acres (3,900 square kilometers) in Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Shasta, and Tehama counties.It was the second-largest fire in state history.Last September, PG&E was charged with involuntary manslaughter and other...
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Pacific Gas & Electric power lines sparked last summer’s Dixie Fire in Northern California that swept through five counties and burned more than 1,300 homes and other buildings, state fire officials said Tuesday. The blaze was caused by a tree hitting electrical distribution lines west of a dam in the Sierra Nevada, where the blaze began on July 13, according to investigators with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Cal Fire said its investigative report was sent to the Butte County district attorney’s office, which will determine whether criminal charges should be filed. PG&E didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment. The finding was no surprise. PG&E has been blamed for several of California’s largest and deadliest wildfires in recent years and already had indicated its equipment may have been involved in the Dixie Fire, which burned nearly 1 million acres (3,900 square kilometers) in Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Shasta, and Tehama counties. It was the second-largest fire in state history. Last September, PG&E was charged with involuntary manslaughter and other crimes because its equipment...
    SAN FRANCISCO —Pacific Gas & Electric Co. cancelled planned public safety power shutoffs for customers in Northern California on Thursday due to offshore winds trending “weaker” than anticipated, but said it’s still considering shutoffs in southern regions of the state. The utility said Tuesday that customers in portions of 20 counties could lose power starting at 12 a.m. Thursday but then reduced the scope to about 5,500 customers in portions of 10 counties, including Napa, Solano and Sonoma before cancelling all of them late Thursday morning. “However, gusty winds in the Southern region of our service area could potentially prompt a PSPS impacting about 670 customers in Kern County,” said PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contreras. “Those customers have been notified that potential shutoffs could begin tonight around midnight.” Customers in regions that were previously considered for a power shutoffs could still experience “unexpected power outages” for reasons including wildfire and debris interfering with power lines, the utility said, adding that it would try to “restore power as quickly as possible” after it’s been determined that power lines are safe to re-energize. The shutoffs...
    By Mark Chediak | Bloomberg California regulators are threatening to escalate enforcement action against utility giant PG&E Corp. for safety lapses at the same time as a federal judge is probing the company’s role in starting the second biggest-wildfire in the state’s history. California Public Utilities Commission President Marybel Batjer said she’s asking the agency’s staff to investigate whether PG&E should be placed into a higher level of oversight for a pattern of self-reported missed inspections and other safety incidents, according to a letter sent Wednesday to PG&E Chief Executive Officer Patricia Poppe. The notice came shortly after the judge overseeing PG&E’s criminal probation pressed the company for more details about how it initially responded to the Dixie Fire, which has burned about 650,000 acres and destroyed more 1,200 structures in the Sierra Nevada mountains north of Sacramento. PG&E has said that its power line may have started the fire, which has been raging for more than a month. PG&E fell as much as 0.5% in after-market trading. Read More: California’s Fires Exhaust the 10,000-Strong Army Fighting Them The heightened...
    GRIZZLY FLATS, Calif. (AP) — Northern California wildfires that incinerated two mountain communities continued marching through the Sierra Nevada on Wednesday while a utility purposely blacked out as many as 51,000 customers to prevent new blazes. Two weeks after the Dixie Fire destroyed most of the Gold Rush-era town of Greenville, the Caldor Fire a few miles southeast exploded through tinder-dry trees and ravaged Grizzly Flats, a forest community of around 1,200 people. Fire officials estimated that at least 50 homes had burned in the area since the fire erupted Saturday and two people were hospitalized with serious injuries. Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency in El Dorado County, where authorities were considering closing the entire El Dorado National Forest. “We know this fire has done things that nobody could have predicted, but that’s how firefighting has been in the state this year,” El Dorado National Forest Supervisor Chief Jeff Marsolais said at a briefing. Both fires grew by tens of thousands of acres from Monday afternoon through Tuesday, torching trees and burning up brush left tinder-dry by...
    By Mark Chediak | Bloomberg A sprawling Northern California wildfire has now destroyed more than 1,000 buildings, crossing a key threshold that puts PG&E Corp. at risk of heightened regulatory scrutiny and ultimately could set the utility further down a path toward a state takeover. The Dixie Fire, which PG&E says may have been sparked by its equipment, is the second-largest blaze in state history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. If PG&E is found to have started it, the number of burned buildings is now high enough to allow regulators to place the utility into the second level of a six-step enforcement process that could lead to state takeover for repeated safety violations. In this satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows from left, overview of Greenville, Calif., before the wildfires on Oct. 31, 2018 and overview of Greenville, during the Dixie Wildfires on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021. California’s largest single wildfire in recorded history is running through forestlands as fire crews try to protect rural communities from flames that have destroyed hundreds of homes....
    By MICHAEL LIEDTKE, AP Business Writer SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Embattled Northern California utility PG&E Corp. has lured away the top executive at Michigan's largest power provider to steer its effort to restore a reputation tarnished by years of neglectful conduct that culminated in a series of deadly wildfires. Patricia “Patti" Poppe will leave her job as CEO of CMS Energy Corp. to take the same position at PG&E effective Jan. 4. Her hiring, announced Wednesday, comes nearly five months after the San Francisco company emerged from one of the most complex bankruptcy cases in U.S. history, an ordeal triggered by the death and destruction in wildfires ignited by PG&E's fraying electrical grid. She will replace interim CEO Bill Smith, who filled the void after Bill Johnson stepped down from the job just 14 months after PG&E hired him amid promises that better days were ahead for the nation's largest utility. PG&E still faces the daunting task of trying to upgrade its electrical equipment at an estimated cost of $40 billion while also trying to avoid causing more wildfires...
    SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Embattled Northern California utility PG&E Corp. has lured away the top executive at Michigan’s largest power provider to steer its effort to restore a reputation tarnished by years of neglectful conduct that culminated in a series of deadly wildfires. Patricia “Patti” Poppe will leave her job as CEO of CMS Energy Corp. to take the same position at PG&E effective Jan. 4. Her hiring, announced Wednesday, comes nearly five months after the San Francisco company emerged from one of the most complex bankruptcy cases in U.S. history, an ordeal triggered by the death and destruction in wildfires ignited by PG&E’s fraying electrical grid. She will replace interim CEO Bill Smith, who filled the void after Bill Johnson stepped down from the job just 14 months after PG&E hired him amid promises that better days were ahead for the nation’s largest utility. PG&E still faces the daunting task of trying to upgrade its electrical equipment at an estimated cost of $40 billion while also trying to avoid causing more wildfires during hot and windy weather conditions...
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    SAN FRANCISCO (AP/CBS13) — Fire crews from across the state were being deployed to Northern California, where hot, windy conditions Wednesday renewed the threat of fire in the region where massive blazes already have destroyed hundreds of homes and killed or injured dozens of people this year. Most of the huge fires that erupted over the past eight weeks are now fully or significantly contained and skies once stained orange by heavy smoke are blue again. Containment means that firefighters have lines holding in a fire, though it doesn’t mean a fire has stopped burning. But the gains made by thousands of firefighters assigned to the blazes that have scorched more than 4.1 million acres this year could be hampered if new fires ignite, said Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire. “If a new fire breaks out, that fire will be able to grow very quickly under these conditions,” Berlant said. The National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning for extreme fire danger from 5 a.m. through Friday...
    Inspections to equipment began Monday, as did the return of power to thousands of Northern California residents who lost electricity because of a PG&E public safety power shutdown, officials with the utility said. PG&E was unable to say Monday afternoon whether any of those restorations were occurring in Napa County, where it turned off power Sunday to 288 residents because of prime fire conditions caused by a Bay Area heat wave and accompanying strong winds. The warning proved prophetic when the Glass Fire broke out Sunday night in Napa and Sonoma counties, where it consumed about 11,000 acres by 9:30 a.m. Monday. Overall, 17,000 customers in Sonoma County and 11,000 in Napa County were without power Monday, PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said. All but the 288 in Napa County were without power at the request of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to keep fire crews safe, Sarkissian said. The utility company has not filed an electrical incident report in the wake of the Glass Fire and has yet to receive any information that the fire can be...
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