Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today said it might be proactively turning power off for safety and conducting a Public Safety Power Shutoff in several Northern California counties within the next 18 to 36 hours. To help reduce the risk of wildfire and keep our customers, their families and their homes and businesses safe, the company may be turning off power in areas of the North Bay and the Sierra foothills where extreme fire risks exist.
PG&E is working directly with CAL FIRE, Cal OES, and other state and local agencies to help prepare for this potential safety event. This morning, the National Weather Service has issued Red Flag Warnings for the Central Valley and the North Bay Hills, starting either Friday evening or Saturday morning and lasting until Sunday afternoon.
“We know how much our customers rely on electric service and would only consider temporarily turning off power in the interest of safety during extreme weather conditions,” said Michael Lewis, PG&E’s senior vice president of Electric Operations.
Potential Timing and Locations
For the North Bay, there is the potential for a Public Safety Power Shutoff affecting several thousand customers starting around 6 a.m. on Saturday. The peak period of fire risk lasts until around 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Areas where power might be shut off:
Napa County: Portions of Napa, Lake Berryessa
Solano County: Portions of Suisun City, Vacaville, Winters
Yolo County: Portions of Davis, Winters
For the Sierra foothills, there is the potential for a Public Safety Power Shutoff affecting about 21,000 customers starting around 9 p.m. on Saturday with the peak period of fire risk lasting until 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Areas where power might be shut off:
Butte County: Portions of Paradise, Oroville, Bangor, Forest Ranch, Chico, Berry Creek, Palermo
Yuba County: Portions of Browns Valley, Oregon House, Marysville, Wheatland, Rackerby
Nevada County: Portions of Auburn, Grass Valley, Smartville, Rough and Ready, Penn Valley
El Dorado County: Portions of Pilot Hill, Greenwood, Georgetown, Cool
Placer County: Portions of Lincoln
If you live in these communities, PG&E will attempt to contact you via telephone, text and email.
Public Safety Power Shutoff Criteria
No single factor drives a Public Safety Power Shutoff, as each situation is unique. PG&E
carefully reviews a combination of many criteria when determining if power should be
turned off for safety. These factors generally include, but are not limited to:
- A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service
- Low humidity levels, generally 20 percent and below
- Forecasted sustained winds generally above 25 mph and wind gusts in excess of approximately 45 mph, depending on location and site-specific conditions such as temperature, terrain and local climate
- Condition of dry fuel on the ground and live vegetation (moisture content)
- On-the-ground, real-time observations from PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Operations Center and observations from PG&E field crews
PG&E remains committed to providing notice to customers in advance of a Public Safety
Power Shutoff, when possible. The company’s goal, dependent on weather, is to send customer alerts prior to shutting off power. PG&E will do so through automated calls, texts and emails. The company will also use pge.com and social media channels, and keep local news and radio outlets informed and updated.
The cadence and frequency of notifications will depend, however, on the forecasted extreme weather conditions and how quickly those threats change, among other factors.
How our customers can prepare
As part of these preparedness efforts, 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 Public Safety Power Shutoff.
- 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 family members who are elderly, younger children and pets. Information and tips including a safety plan checklist are available at pge.com/wildfiresafety.
Inspections and restoration of power
After the extreme weather has passed and it is safe to do so, PG&E crews will work to visually inspect each mile of the impacted power lines to ensure they are free from damage and safe to energize.
Inspections will take place during daylight hours and, in most cases, PG&E expects to be able to restore power within 24 to 48 hours after extreme weather has passed. However, depending on weather conditions or if any repairs are needed, outages (weather event plus restoration time) could last longer than 48 hours. For planning purposes, PG&E suggests customers prepare for multiple-day outages.
Like a winter storm outage, during a Public Safety Power Shutoff, outage information, including maps showing which areas may by impacted, will be available on pge.com.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 24,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and www.pge.com/en/about/newsroom/index.page.