SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) — PG&E CEO Bill Johnson admitted during a Thursday evening press conference that the utility thoroughly botched its Public Safety Power Shutoff, apologizing to customers.
The press conference at the utility’s San Francisco headquarters marked the first time the company’s head had publicly addressed the shutdown.
“We faced a choice between hardship on everyone or safety and we chose safety,” said Johnson. “And I do apologize for the hardship this has caused, but I think we made the right call on safety.”
Johnson also apologized for all the technical problems with the PG&E website and promised to get them right next time.
“Our website crashed several times. Our maps are inconsistent and may be incorrect. Our call centers were overloaded,” said Johnson. “To put it simply, we were not adequately prepared to support the operational event.”
Earlier, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Pacific Gas and Electric’s decision to cut power to a million people in Northern California to prevent a catastrophic wildfire should not be blamed on climate change. Instead, he said he believes the blackouts were the result of mismanagement, “greed and neglect” by the nation’s largest investor-owned utility.
“What has occurred in the last 48 hours is unacceptable,” Newsom told reporters on Thursday. He listed problems such as school closures and people who “can’t even access water or medical supplies.”
Newsom criticized PG&E for neglecting its power-supplying equipment when it should have modernized it in response to a changing climate that has made California more susceptible to wildfires.