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Outages to deter wildfires burden rural California counties

SAN FRANCISCO — As California’s largest utility cuts power during warm, windy weather to prevent its equipment from starting wildfires, wealthier counties have adapted their emergency plans.

But Pacific Gas and Electric’s preventive blackouts are proving to be a burden to smaller, poorer counties that lack resources.

When the utility announced planned outages this week, Sonoma County officials sprang into action. They called up staffers and set up an emergency operations centre.

Farther north, officials in rural Butte County simply posted PG&E information online about which neighbourhoods would be affected.

Utilities and county officials are working together to figure out their roles, but a lack of standards has led to disparate responses.

California lawmakers have allocated $75 million to help local governments prepare, but officials have yet to decide how to distribute it.

Olga R. Rodriguez, The Associated Press