Rose Comments on California Electric Utility Blackouts in Anticipation of Wildfires - USA Today

Adam Rose interviewed for USA Today article, "PG&E and Southern California Edison have turned off power to minimize fires. It hasn't worked. What will?"

PG&E began the shutoff program in October 2018, but it wasn’t fully implemented until this fall. That’s six years after San Diego Gas & Electric first deployed the strategy, but on a smaller scale, evoking less of an uproar. SD&E also spent more than $1 billion in fire prevention in the last dozen years, reducing risk.

Adam Rose, a professor at the University of Southern California who directs a risk-analysis center that studies natural disasters, said Southern California Edison also has been less aggressive in its shutoffs than PG&E.

On Thursday morning, the southland energy provider had cut off service to about 83,000 customers as the area experienced strong Santa Ana winds. Another 200,000-plus homes and businesses were under shutoff alert.

Rose said PG&E's reasoning for the outages is sound, especially given the liability it’s exposed to, but its approach needs to be fine-tuned considerably.

“Ideally they would do it very selectively, in a way where you really knew when there’s a strong threat and you could pinpoint exactly where so you could reduce the number of people who were disadvantaged by a shutdown,’’ Rose said. “Unfortunately, shutting down power lines is somewhat of a new phenomenon and they don’t have all the necessary information or models they need to do this in an optimal way.’’