When Pacific Gas & Electric intentionally cut power to Northern California last fall, few of its emergency managers had learned the fundamentals of managing an emergency in their home state.

The nation’s largest utility entered 2019 planning to “de-energize” its aging electric grid so downed power lines couldn’t spark a blaze.

Yet only a handful of the hundreds of people who handled the blackouts were trained in the disaster response playbook used in California. The October 2019 outages brought chaos.

By contrast, three power shutoffs this fall have been smoother after most of the emergency managers completed the training.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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