Thursday, 20 February, 2020

PG&E may cut power in 30 California counties to curb fires

Humboldt Bay Power Station aerial view Humboldt Bay Power Station aerial view
Cary Erickson | 09 October, 2019, 08:55

In an unprecedented move, Pacific Gas & Electric said it will shut off power to about 800,000 customers across Northern California in a desperate attempt to avoid wildfires caused by winds damaging power equipment.

The company said in a tweet at 10:11 a.m. Tuesday that it was "currently experiencing high volume of traffic to our website & understand your frustration w/ the delay of accessing #PSPS (public safety power shutoff) related web pages".

Humboldt County will not be affected but nearby counties include Mendocino, Shasta, and Tehama.

In the news conference, he said some of the utility company's customers may have their power shut off "even though the weather conditions in their specific location are not extreme".

Never before has a utility planned such a widespread shutoff affecting so many customers at once to avoid a wildfire in California.

Gusty northeast winds across ridges are expected from Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning. Although the electrified rail service gets power from PG&E, its own cables can redistribute electricity during a blackout and the agency has set up back-up generators, Bart spokesman Jim Allison said.

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"(That's) because of the interconnected nature of our electrical grid and the power lines working together to provide electricity to cities, counties and regions", Singh said.

Cal Fire likewise concluded that PG&E power lines had sparked a separate flurry of wildfires that swept California's wine country north of San Francisco Bay in 2017.

PG&E has been in the process of notifying potentially impacted customers of the October 9 outage and will continue to do so, via automated calls, texts and emails, reads Tuesday's press release.

The power shutoff, which could persist for several days, could impact over 50,000 customers in Contra Costa County areas considered vulnerable to fires, such as parts of Richmond, Pinole, El Cerrito, El Sobrante and San Pablo. PG&E will use this information to alert customers through automated calls, texts, and emails, when possible, prior to, and during, a PSPS.

Update your contact information at pge.com/mywildfirealerts or by calling 1-866-743-6589.

· Keep in mind elderly family members, younger children and pets.