The economic impact of fire evacuations and blackouts

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A firefighter douses water on a house after it was burned by the wind-driven Getty Fire in West Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 28, 2019. Credit: REUTERS/ Gene Blevins.

The Easy Fire broke out early today in Simi Valley, and within hours, it swept over thousands of acres, pushed by 50-70 mph winds. An extreme red flag weather warning remains in effect. 

The fires across Northern and Southern California are extremely costly, and so are the planned power outages aimed at preventing them. Some people have to evacuate with no power, which means no lights, no garage door openers, no cell phones charging.

In Northern California, millions of residents and businesses have been affected by the outages, leaving businesses temporarily closed and food spoiled.

On Tuesday, PG&E reluctantly agreed to Governor Gavin Newsom’s demand that the utility company reimburse customers affected. But the rebate would only apply to a fraction of PG&E’s customers. And it would only be $100 for individuals and $250 for businesses. 

The estimated economic cost of the current power outages could reach $2.5 billion. That’s according to Michael Wara, director of the Climate and Energy Policy Program at Stanford University.

Credits

Guest:
Michael Wara - Senior Research Scholar at the Woods Institute for the Environment; Director of the Climate and Energy Policy Program at Stanford University

Host:
Madeleine Brand

Producers:
Sarah Sweeney, Michell Eloy, Amy Ta, Alexandra Sif Tryggvadottir, Rosalie Atkinson, Brian Hardzinski, Devan Schwartz