Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s largest ever precautionary power cut-off to reduce its exposure to wildfire liabilities could impact more than 800,000 people across the state, including residents in the far west and east areas of Stanislaus County.
PG&E confirmed on Tuesday that it will implement a Public Safety Power Shutoff in portions of 34 northern, central and coastal counties, affecting electric service for nearly 800,000 customers, due to a forecasted severe wind event.
Power is expected to be turned off in some areas early Wednesday, just after midnight. The power will be turned off to communities in stages, according to the utility company, depending on local timing of the severe wind conditions, beginning with counties in the northern part of the state.
“The safety of our customers and the communities we serve is our most important responsibility, which is why PG&E has decided to turn power off to customers during this widespread, severe wind event. We understand the effects this event will have on our customers and appreciate the public’s patience as we do what is necessary to keep our communities safe and reduce the risk of wildfire,” said Michael Lewis, PG&E’s senior vice president of Electric Operations.
PG&E implemented the shut off plans after they conceded their equipment in similar conditions as expected on Wednesday and Thursday likely started the Butte County last November that killed 85 people, destroyed 14,000 homes and burned 5,000 structures.
PG&E has been notifying potentially impacted customers about this week’s planned outage and will continue to do so, via automated calls, texts and emails. However, customers not impacted by the expected outage may experience power outages due to PG&E equipment damaged during the major wind event.
Based on the latest weather forecasts and models, PG&E anticipates that this weather event will last through midday Thursday, with peak winds forecasted from Wednesday morning through Thursday morning and reaching 40 to 55 mph, with isolated gusts up to 60 to 70 mph.
Before restoring power, PG&E must inspect its equipment for damage and make any necessary repairs. That process cannot begin until the severe weather event has subsided.
Given the prolonged period during which the wind event will unfold, and the large number of power line miles that will need to be inspected before restoration, customers are being asked to prepare for an extended outage.
To support customers in the affected areas, PG&E will open Community Resource Centers in several locations beginning 8 a.m. Wednesday. The centers will remain open during daylight hours only. Restrooms, bottled water, electronic-device charging and air-conditioned seating for up to 100 will be available at these facilities.
The Community Resource Center in Stanislaus County will be located at the Westley Hotel, 8615 CA-33 in Westley.
In anticipation of the outage, PG&E is asking customers to:
· - Update their contact information at pge.com/mywildfirealerts or by calling 1-866-743- 6589 during normal business hours. PG&E will use this information to alert customers through automated calls, texts, and emails, when possible, prior to, and during, a PSPS.
· - Plan for medical needs like medications that require refrigeration or devices that need power.
· - Identify backup charging methods for phones and keep hard copies of emergency numbers.
· - Build or restock your emergency kit with flashlights, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash.
· - Keep in mind elderly family members, younger children and pets. Information and tips including a safety plan checklist are available at pge.com/psps.
· - Continue to monitor PG&E’s new weather forecasting web page at pge.com/weather which is a dedicated page with weather forecasting information and a daily 7-day PSPS lookahead
Backup electric generators can be a part of any preparedness plan, but they can also pose unique safety hazards. PG&E recommends positioning a generator where its exhaust can vent safely to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal. Never run a portable generator in the garage or in the rain and never store generator fuel in the house. Additional tips on the safe use of generators can be found at PG&E’s Safety Action Center at www.safetyactioncenter.pge.com.