Utilities

PG&E Announces Potential of Public Safety Power Shutoff for Monday Night with Dry Offshore Winds Predicted

The following is press release issued by Pacific Gase and Electric:

[Stock image from PIxabay.com]

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) meteorologists continue to monitor a potential weather system that could bring dry offshore winds to parts of the company’s service area beginning Monday morning.

Given this wind event, combined with extreme to exceptional drought and extremely dry vegetation, PG&E is sending two-day advance notifications to approximately 14,000 customers in targeted portions of 13 counties and two tribes where PG&E may need to implement a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) to reduce the risk of wildfire from energized power lines.

Despite the potential for rain in some areas, PG&E is notifying customers of the possible PSPS in case rain doesn’t materialize or forecasted wind speeds still pose a wildfire risk. The potential shutoffs could begin Monday morning in portions of the North Coast and North Bay; shutoffs in the Northern Sierra foothills and Kern County could begin Monday afternoon, depending on the timing of the wind event.

PG&E activated its Emergency Operations Center on Friday to support this weather event.

Customer notifications—via text, email and automated phone call—began Saturday, two days prior to the potential shutoff. Customers can also look up their address online to find out if their location is being monitored for the potential safety shutoff at http://www.pge.com/pspsupdates.

“At PG&E, we are determined to stop catastrophic wildfires, and this potential Public Safety Power Shutoff is a last-resort tool in helping us reduce wildfire risk in the communities we serve. We understand that being without power is difficult for our customers—especially in areas experiencing multiple outages. Our focus is on protecting our hometowns while minimizing the disruption of these safety shutoffs,” said Marlene Santos, PG&E’s Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer.

During a PSPS, PG&E offers support to customers by opening Community Resource Centers with snacks, water and other essential items; partnering with community-based organizations to assist customers with medical and independent living needs; and continuing to update our customers on power restoration status. Details about customer support programs are available at www.pge.com/pspsupdates.

Potentially Affected Counties

Potentially affected customers by county are as follows:

  • Butte County: 2,735 customers, 248 Medical Baseline customers
  • Colusa County: 567 customers, 36 Medical Baseline customers
  • Glenn County: 376 customers, 21 Medical Baseline customers
  • Kern County: 674 customers, 35 Medical Baseline customers
  • Lake County: 756 customers, 65 Medical Baseline customers
  • Mendocino County: 13 customers, 4 Medical Baseline customers
  • Napa County: 1,584customers, 70 Medical Baseline customers
  • Santa Barbara County: 19 customers, 1 Medical Baseline customer
  • Shasta County: 3,166 customers, 294 Medical Baseline customers
  • Solano County: 802 customers, 56 Medical Baseline customers
  • Sonoma County: 1,241 customers, 47 Medical Baseline customer
  • Tehama County: 2,270 customers, 177 Medical Baseline customers
  • Yolo County: 20 customers, 0 Medical Baseline customers

Potentially affected tribal areas include 50 customers in Grindstone Rancheria and 8 in Cortina Rancheria.

If customers enrolled in the company’s Medical Baseline program do not verify that they have received these important safety communications, PG&E employees will pay individual, in-person visits when possible with a primary focus on customers who rely on electricity for critical life-sustaining equipment.

With the potential PSPS event two days away, conditions may change. PG&E’s in-house meteorologists, as well as its Wildfire Safety Operations Center and Emergency Operations Center, continue to closely monitor conditions. PG&E will share additional customer notifications as conditions evolve.

Public Safety Power Shutoffs: What PG&E Customers Should Know

Why PG&E Calls a PSPS Event

PG&E initiates Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) when the weather forecast calls for such severe weather that people’s safety, lives, homes and businesses may be in danger of wildfires.

As each weather situation is unique, PG&E carefully reviews a combination of factors when deciding if power must be turned off. These factors include:

  • Low humidity levels, generally 30% and below.
  • A forecast of high winds, particularly sustained winds above 20 miles per hour and wind gusts above 30-40 miles per hour.
  • Condition of dry material on the ground and low moisture content of vegetation.
  • A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service.
  • Real-time ground observations from our Wildfire Safety Operations Center and from our crews working across the service territory.

This year, PG&E’s decision-making process is evolving to also account for the presence of trees tall enough to strike power lines when determining if a PSPS event is necessary. Every wildfire season is different, and the ongoing drought and the conditions will determine the number of times PG&E will need to shut off power, without compromising safety.

This set of criteria is a first step that may lead to further analysis from PG&E’s meteorology team to determine if a PSPS event is necessary.

Where to Learn More

  • PG&E’s emergency website (www.pge.com/pspsupdates) is now available in 16 languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Russian, Vietnamese, Korean, Farsi, Arabic, Hmong, Khmer, Punjabi, Japanese, Thai, Portuguese, and Hindi. Customers will have the opportunity to choose their language of preference for viewing the information when visiting the website.
  • Customers are encouraged to update their contact information and indicate their preferred language for notifications by visiting www.pge.com/mywildfirealerts or by calling 1-800-743-5000, where in-language support is available.
  • Tenants and non-account holders can sign up to receive PSPS ZIP Code Alerts for any area where you do not have a PG&E account by visiting www.pge.com/pspszipcodealerts.
  • At PG&E’s Safety Action Center (www.safetyactioncenter.pge.com) customers can prepare for emergencies. By using the “Make Your Own Emergency Plan” tool and answering a few short questions, visitors to the website can compile and organize the important information needed for a personalized family emergency plan. This includes phone numbers, escape routes and a family meeting location if an evacuation is necessary.

PG&E’s Commitment to Wildfire Safety

PG&E’s multi-faceted Community Wildfire Safety Program includes both immediate and long-term action plans to further reduce wildfire risk and keep its customers and communities safe.

Since 2018, PG&E’s wildfire safety work has resulted in:

  • Multiple inspections of distribution, transmission and substation equipment in high fire-threat areas
  • Hardening more than 600 miles with stronger lines and poles to better withstand severe weather
  • Conducting enhanced vegetation safety work on nearly 5,000 line miles in high fire-threat areas (this is in addition to the more than 5 million trees that PG&E has trimmed or removed as part of its routine vegetation management and tree mortality efforts)
  • Installing more than 1,000 sectionalizing devices and switches that limit the size of PSPS events that are necessary to mitigate the risk of wildfires
  • Installing more than 1,150 advanced weather stations to help PG&E gather more data and information to better predict and respond to extreme weather threats
  • Installing more than 400 high-definition cameras to monitor and respond to wildfires
  • Reserving more than 65 helicopters to quickly restore power after severe weather during PSPS events
  • Monitoring wildfire threats in real-time through a dedicated team at PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Operations Center, which is staffed 24 hours a day during wildfire season

Ongoing PG&E Wildfire Mitigation and Resiliency Efforts

PG&E’s ongoing safety work to enhance grid resilience and address the growing threat of severe weather and wildfires continues on a risk-based and data-driven basis, as outlined in its 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan.

Categories: Utilities, Weather

3 replies »

  1. This is the most heartless co. in the world, they cut the ac when old people need it most , for days ! they are not strong enough , or wealthy enough, to start or afford a gen set. they have water on their place, they cant even pump it , because the PGE shut off the power.
    Turn it off when you need it pwr co.

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