CPUC launches formal investigation into PG&E power shutoffs

The California Public Utilities Commission has announced a formal investigation into PG&E's historic and controversial Public Safety Power 
Shutoffs last month to assess whether the company's leadership properly balanced the utility's need to provide safe and reliable service.

"It is important for the CPUC to determine if the utilities complied with using Public Safety Power Shutoffs as a last resort, and to collect the knowledge gained towards any revisions needed for next year," Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma said in a statement Wednesday.

"It is essential that our protocols and the utilities' practices provide the best service and protections for customers in the face of wildfires," Shiroma said.

The proceeding, known formally as an "Order Instituting Investigation," will provide a review of the effectiveness and impacts of the shutoffs with an eye toward revising existing regulations governing de-energization of the grid. 

There may also be an enforcement phase, if the investigation finds that PG&E failed to comply with CPUC rules and regulations.

This comes after a series of shutoffs impacting 738,000 households and businesses across more than 30 counties in California, causing financial losses that have not yet been fully tallied.

The shutoffs have drawn the ire of residents and politicians alike, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has called for a "total reform" of the rules and regulations governing the process.