De-energize and DERs: The tough options wildfires pose for California utilities

Utility Dive: Devastating wildfires have brought California's utilities and policymakers face to face with a hard choice, illustrated last fall by the experience of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), the state's biggest electricity provider.

In October 2018, PG&E, faced with an imminent wildfire threat, shut off power lines in high risk areas. Customers protested at being without electricity, but no fire occurred. The next month, facing another wildfire threat, PG&E, with protests still echoing, did not de-energize lines. The Camp Fire followed, killing 86 people and destroying 18,661 structures.

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