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PG&E begins shutting off power for safety during offshore wind event 

wind event

The safety shutoff is due to a combination of dry offshore winds, extreme to exceptional drought conditions and extremely dry vegetation.

Event will affect about 51,000 customers in small parts of 18 counties

— Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) confirmed that it is in the process of implementing a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) affecting about 51,000 customers in small portions of 18 counties focused in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the North Coast, the North Valley and the North Bay mountains.

The safety shutoff is due to a combination of dry offshore winds, extreme to exceptional drought conditions and extremely dry vegetation. Since Saturday, PG&E meteorologists have been tracking the weather system, which could bring sustained winds of up to 40 mph, gusting higher in foothills and mountains. The National Weather Service has issued Fire Weather Watches in the area today through Wednesday based on forecasts for dry, northerly winds and low relative humidity. And the Northern California Geographic Area Coordination Center’s North Operations Predictive Services has issued a high-risk fire warning today through Wednesday due to “an unusually gusty early-season” wind event.

Timeline for safety shutoffs. The times below are estimates and may change (earlier or later) dependent on the dynamic weather environment. Times below as of 5 p.m. on August 17, 2021:

power shutoffs

PG&E anticipates weather “all clears” will occur Wednesday, August 18, in the afternoon with
varying times depending on individual locations.

Counties and customers potentially affected:

counties affected

 

The following Tribal Communities located within these counties will be impacted by this event:
• Cortina Rancheria, Grindstone Rancheria, Mooretown Rancheria, Pit River (Montgomery Creek), and Round Valley Tribes.

Restoration to begin Wednesday afternoon

PG&E will notify customers on Wednesday when the weather system has passed and will provide continuous updates on when to expect the power to turn back on.

Once conditions are clear, our electric crews will begin patrolling in the air depending on the levels of smoke impacting our visibility, in vehicles and on foot to check de-energized lines for hazards or damage to make sure it is safe to restore power.

Restoration steps include:

• Inspect: Our crews will work to visually inspect for potential weather-related damage to the lines, poles and towers.
• Repair: Where equipment damage is found, PG&E crews work to isolate the damaged area from the rest of the system so other parts of the system can be restored.
• Restore: Once the poles, towers and lines are safe to energize, PG&E’s Control Center can complete the process and restore power to affected areas.
• Notification: Customers are notified that power has been restored.

“With these high winds and extremely dry climate conditions, we are focused on customer and community safety. It’s never an easy decision to turn off the power for safety, but it is the right thing to do to keep everyone safe,” said Marlene Santos, PG&E Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer. “We understand how disruptive and inconvenient it is to lose power.

The sole focus of a PSPS is to keep our customers safe. As soon as this extreme weather passes, our crews will be inspecting our equipment and the vegetation around it, making repairs and restoring power as soon as it’s safe to do so. In the face of extreme and exceptional drought, we must do everything possible to protect lives, homes and businesses. We are incredibly grateful to our customers for their patience as we take the necessary steps to reduce the risk of wildfire across our service area.”

How customers can prepare

• Use a cell phone or hard-wired phone. Cordless phones do not work without electricity.
• Use battery-operated flashlights, not candles, which may pose a fire hazard.
• Unplug or turn off all electric and heat-producing appliances (e.g., air conditioners, washers and dryers, ovens, stoves, irons) to avoid overloading circuits. Overloaded circuits can be a fire hazard once power is restored.
• Unplug televisions and computers that were in use when the power went out.
• Leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns.
• Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed, and place extra containers of ice inside to preserve food. A full freezer will remain colder longer.
• Notify your alarm company if you have an alarm system. Equipment can be affected by outages.
• Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
• Reset clocks, thermostats and other programmed equipment after power is restored.

Generator safety

Backup power can be a vital part of any emergency preparedness plan in the event of a power outage. PG&E’s residential and business customers can review key considerations, safety tips, financing and retailer information by visiting pge.com/backuppower.

Community resource centers

PG&E will open 36 Community Resource Centers (CRCs) in 17 counties to support customers affected by this event. View the most current list of CRCs at www.pge.com/pspsupdates. CRCs will open Tuesday starting at 5 p.m. and close at 10 p.m. and then reopen at 8 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. for the remainder of the shutoff.

During a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), PG&E opens CRCs where community members can access resources, including:

  • A safe location to meet their basic power needs, such as charging medical equipment and electronic devices.
  • Up-to-date information about the PSPS.
  • Water, snacks and other essential items to reduce hardships to our customers.

 

To keep customers and communities safe, all resource centers reflect appropriate COVID-19 health considerations and federal, state and county guidelines.

PG&E is offering 16 outdoor sites to supplement the 20 indoor CRCs and provide more options for customers.

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 1-800-742-5000, 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.

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The news staff of the Paso Robles Daily News wrote or edited this story from local contributors and press releases. The news staff can be reached at info@pasoroblesdailynews.com.