PG&E es­ti­mates that 80,000 cus­tomers will be af­fected by NorCal out­ages

Lodi News-Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael McGough

Pa­cific Gas and Elec­tric Co. con­firmed Tues­day af­ter­noon it will proac­tively shut off power to hun­dreds of thou­sands of cus­tomers start­ing Wednesday morn­ing, now es­ti­mat­ing that close to 800,000 cus­tomers will be af­fected by the pub­lic safety shut­off event, which was prompted by crit­i­cal fire weather con­di­tions.

The util­ity on Mon­day night re­leased a list of 30 coun­ties — through­out the Sacra­mento Val­ley, the Bay Area, the North Bay and parts of the north­ern Sierra Nevada and foothills — that could each see any­where from dozens to tens of thou­sands of cus­tomers lose power start­ing at about 4 a.m. Wednesday.

In an up­dated news re­lease just be­fore 1:30 p.m., “PG&E con­firmed that it will im­ple­ment a Pub­lic Safety Power Shut­off (PSPS) in por­tions of 34 north­ern, cen­tral and coastal coun­ties, af­fect­ing elec­tric ser­vice for nearly 800,000 cus­tomers.” The four ad­di­tional coun­ties are Marin, Hum­boldt, Trin­ity and Kern.

Michael Lewis, se­nior vice president of PG&E’s elec­tric op­er­a­tions, said in a pre­pared state­ment that it could take “sev­eral days to fully re­store power after the weather passes and safety in­spec­tions are com­pleted.” Windy con­di­tions are ex­pected to last through mid­day Thurs­day.

PG&E has em­pha­sized in re­cent weeks that full restora­tion of power re­quires visual in­spec­tion of all trans­mis­sion and dis­tri­bu­tion lines through­out the af­fected ar­eas.

Which ci­ties, coun­ties could be most im­pacted?

The planned shut­off event, as of Tues­day af­ter­noon’s es­ti­mates by PG&E, will af­fect broad por­tions of the Sacra­mento Val­ley, the Bay Area and the North Bay.

No shut­offs are ex­pected for Sacra­mento County, but more than 100,000 cus­tomers could lose power in neigh­bor­ing El Do­rado, Placer and Yolo coun­ties.

Ear­lier Mon­day, the com­pany con­firmed it will shut down power to 5,791 Yolo County cus­tomers start­ing Wednesday, in por­tions of Win­ters, Es­parto, Guinda, Ca­pay, Brooks, Madi­son, Rum­sey, Wood­land, Davis, Dun­ni­gan and Zamora.

PG&E says it will shut off power to 66,289 Sonoma County cus­tomers, in­clud­ing parts of Santa Rosa; to 51,641 cus­tomers in Placer County, in­clud­ing parts of Ro­seville, Rock­lin, Auburn, Lin­coln, Gran­ite Bay, Loomis and Col­fax; and to 51,284 cus­tomers in El Do­rado County, in­clud­ing Plac­erville, El Do­rado Hills, Pol­lock Pines, Cameron Park and Shin­gle Springs.

The util­ity may cut power to any­where be­tween about 30,000 and 45,000 cus­tomers in each of Alameda, Butte, Con­tra Costa, Napa, Nevada, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Tuolumne coun­ties.

The long list in­cludes scores of ci­ties and un­in­cor­po­rated com­mu­ni­ties, but does not break down es­ti­mated cus­tomer counts by city. Other ma­jor North­ern Cal­i­for­nia ci­ties that could see at least some cus­tomers lose power include San Jose, Oak­land, Berke­ley, Chico, Santa Cruz, Red­ding, Fair­field and Va­cav­ille.

The full list, in­clud­ing break­downs by county, can be found on the com­pany’s web­site.

How windy will it be? Crit­i­cal fire con­di­tions are ex­pected to reach Cal­i­for­nia late Tues­day night through Thurs­day af­ter­noon, prompt­ing the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice to is­sue a red flag warnings cov­er­ing al­most all of North­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

Just after 10 a.m. Tues­day, the NWS up­graded a fire weather watch advisory for the Sacra­mento Val­ley to a red flag warn­ing, say­ing in a tweet that this week’s weather is fore­cast to be the “strong­est wind event of the sea­son so far.”

North to north­east winds are ex­pected to blow about 15 to 25 mph, but lo­cal­ized gusts could range from 35 to 45 mph or higher, ac­cord­ing to the NWS. Low day­time hu­mid­ity and poor hu­mid­ity re­cov­ery overnight, com­bined with those gusty con­di­tions, is cre­at­ing the wild­fire dan­ger.

The NWS Bay Area and Reno of­fices have issued red flag warnings.

The Reno-area red flag warn­ing is in effect from 2 p.m. Tues­day to 8 a.m. Wednesday, af­fect­ing pri­mar­ily the High­way 395 cor­ri­dor.

The Bay Area warn­ing in­cludes the Santa Cruz moun­tains, and both the hills and val­leys in the North Bay and East Bay. That red flag warn­ing is in place 5 a.m. Wednesday through 5 p.m. Thurs­day, with the “time pe­riod of great­est con­cern” com­ing late Wednesday through early Thurs­day, ac­cord­ing to the NWS.

How long will power be out?

PG&E has em­pha­sized that due to the mag­ni­tude of the po­ten­tial shut­down and the time it would take to re­store power given the nec­es­sary in­spec­tions that some af­fected cus­tomers could be with­out power for “sev­eral days.” More spe­cific es­ti­mates are un­likely un­til a fi­nal de­ci­sion is made whether and where power will be shut off. Es­ti­mated restora­tion date and time are la­beled “To be an­nounced” on PG&E’s power shut­off web­page as of Tues­day morn­ing.

Tues­day af­ter­noon’s es­ti­mates mean the up­com­ing shut­off will be by far the largest since PG&E be­gan im­ple­ment­ing the mea­sure to mit­i­gate wild­fire risk.

PG&E’s first pub­lic safety power shut­off, on Oct. 14, 2018, re­mains the big­gest the com­pany has in­sti­tuted so far, im­pact­ing about 59,000 cus­tomers in Lake and El Do­rado coun­ties.

What should you do to pre­pare?

Those in af­fected ar­eas are urged to keep emer­gency sup­plies such as food, wa­ter, flash­lights and first aid sup­plies read­ily avail­able.

PG&E in so­cial me­dia posts re­minded those who are plan­ning to use a backup gen­er­a­tor to make sure it is ready for safe use.

PG&E said in a Mon­day night news re­lease that it is “plan­ning to open Com­mu­nity Re­source Cen­ters across the af­fected ar­eas” to support af­fect cus­tomers.

PG&E is open­ing more than two dozen re­source cen­ters start­ing at 8 a.m. Wednesday, the com­pany said in Tues­day af­ter­noon’s news re­lease. A full list is avail­able on the PG&E web­site.

The re­source cen­ters will be open dur­ing day­time hours, pro­vid­ing re­strooms, bot­tled wa­ter, air con­di­tion­ing and the op­por­tu­nity to charge elec­tronic de­vices.

CAROLYN COLE/LOS AN­GE­LES TIMES

The Camp Fire was the dead­li­est and most de­struc­tive wild­fire in Cal­i­for­nia his­tory. A state in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that Pa­cific Gas and Elec­tric Co. equip­ment caused the blaze, which killed 86 peo­ple.

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