Friday, December 1, 2023

PG&E on Recent Storm: ‘We Have Not Seen This Many Fallen Trees, Causing Power Outages in More Than 15 Years’


The following is a press release issued by Pacific Gas and Electric:

A PG&E truck working on restoring power in Brooktrails [Picture provided by Summer Tres]

Crews were able to complete damage repairs and restore power to thousands of customers Wednesday night in Garberville, Bridgeville, Petrolia and areas in Willow Creek after Sunday nights severe winter storm.  The heavy snowpack and the large number of trees that have fallen on power lines and electrical equipment caused thousands of customers to lose power along the North Coast.  We have not seen this many fallen trees, causing power outages in more than 15 years. The last time Northern California had storms of this magnitude was back in 2016, our last relatively wet water year in recent years.  Snowfall totals associated with this storm have in some cases broken snow accumulation records for the month of December.

Crews are still working safely and as quickly as possible to restore power to the remaining customers in Willow Creek, Hoopa and some in Laytonville, as well as Trinity County.  Now that conditions have cleared and we have been able to fly a helicopter to inspect our lines for damage for the first time, we have made assessments on Cahto Peak and Bell Springs RoadThat means the remaining customers in the Laytonville area are expected to receive power tonight.

Same with Willow Creek and Hoopa.  We were able to insect that transmission line that serves those customers today for the first time with a helicopter and found multiple instances of damage that we can’t see from the ground.  We will begin restoring the remaining customers in Willow Creek in small batches, as repairs are made. All customers will be restored when there are zero locations of damages on the entire transmission line.

Also going into Trinity County, there are hundreds of customers who are without power and we have been contacting them to let them know they may be without power at least through the weekend.  Those are the areas (as well as Willow Creek) where the outage website may have an ETOR (estimated time of restoration) for January 10 or even January 14, and that is based on earlier data.  PG&E has been sending initial estimated times of restoration to impacted customers to help them plan and prepare.  These dates are based on initial assessments and the dates are likely to change as we gain access, survey damage and continue the restoration progress. We have scores of crews working alongside other first responders and we will not stop until every customer is restored from the powerful holiday winter storm.

Again, we DO expect those dates to change as we have been able to gain access to more areas, are able to use additional resources (such as helicopters and more snowcats) and the hazardous conditions have dissipated.

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Dangers associated with this system include high avalanche danger, cold temperatures, travel risks over mountain passes and highways, and danger from snow loading that can cause downed trees and powerlines.  Strong storm conditions are resulting in inaccessibility to equipment due to snow, downed trees and other hazards.

Out of the approx. 3,000 customers without power in Humboldt and Trinity Counties, here’s a look at the number of customers currently impacted in the hardest hit areas:

Blue Lake – 96 customers without power

Bridgeville – 186

Burnt Ranch – 454

Hoopa – 185

Mad River – 24

Orleans – 27

Salyer – 452

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Willow Creek – currently 930 impacted

Zenia – 68

I know there are community centers / warming centers open in Willow Creek and Hoopa but we do have some safety tips on staying warm:

The best ways to stay warm during a power outage are to wear layers, stay in a confined space, use blankets and battery-powered space heaters, and to avoid exposing your home to cold air. Never use products inside the home that generate dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, such as generators, outdoor grills, or propane heaters. If available, use a backup generator to power space heaters and other small essential appliances. Never place it inside the home. Keep it outside in a well-ventilated area.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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