01/16/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/16/2021 21:24
Release Date: January 16, 2021
Contact: PG&E External Communications (415) 973-5930
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has notified a targeted number of customers in small portions of Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Madera, Mariposa, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Tuolumne counties about a potential Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) Monday night. Dry conditions combined with high wind gusts pose an increased risk for damage to the electric system that could ignite fires in areas with dry vegetation.
PG&E Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is open and the company's meteorologists are monitoring the situation. In addition to the potential for a PSPS event in parts of PG&E service area, strong and gusty winds may cause flying debris and vegetation which can impact power lines and cause additional outages.
Forecasts show high fire-risk conditions arriving Monday evening in the southern portion of PG&E's service area, with high winds expected to subside by Wednesday morning. Before any restoration begins, PG&E will inspect de-energized lines to ensure they were not damaged by high winds. PG&E will restore power safely and as quickly as possible once the weather all-clear is given.
There is still uncertainty regarding the strength and timing of this weather wind event, which PG&E is carefully monitoring.
Potential for Small, Targeted Public Safety Power Shutoff: What People Should Know
The potential PSPS event is still two days away. PG&E in-house meteorologists as well as staff in its Wildfire Safety Operations Center and Emergency Operations Center continue to monitor conditions. PG&E will send additional customer notifications as we move closer to the potential event.
Customer notifications-via text, email and automated phone call-began this afternoon, two days prior to the potential shutoff. When possible, PG&E employees will knock on the doors of customers enrolled in the company's Medical Baseline program who do not verify that they have received these important safety messages. Those visits will focus on customers who rely on electricity for critical life-sustaining equipment.
Customers by county who could potentially be affected by this PSPS event
PSPS Not Likely for Bay Area Counties
Due to recent rains, relatively high humidity levels and the lack of any Red Flag Warnings in the Bay Area, PG&E does not anticipate the need for a Public Safety Power Shutoff in any Bay Area counties during this weather event.
Potential for Wind Damage Across PG&E's Service Area
The offshore weather event is expected to produce damage-producing winds across much of California beginning Sunday and extending into early next week. While there may not be a PSPS in many areas due to recent rainfall in the northern parts of PG&E's service area, there could be wires down and outages due to flying debris and vegetation.
If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and extremely dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it-and keep children and animals away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 911 and by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
Why PG&E Calls a PSPS Event
Due to forecasted extreme weather conditions, PG&E is considering proactively turning off power for safety. Windy conditions, like those being forecast, increase the potential for damage and hazards to the electric infrastructure, which could cause sparks if lines are energized. These conditions also increase the potential for rapid fire spread.
State officials classify more than half of PG&E's 70,000-square-mile service area in Northern and Central California as having a high fire threat, given dry grasses and the high volume of dead and dying trees. The state's high-risk areas have tripled in size in seven years.
No single factor drives a PSPS, 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:
Here's Where to Go to Learn More
Community Resource Centers Reflect COVID-Safety Protocols
PG&E will open Community Resource Centers (CRCs) to support any affected customers.
The sole purpose of a PSPS is to reduce the risk of major wildfires during severe weather. While a PSPS is an important wildfire safety tool, PG&E understands that losing power disrupts lives, especially for customers sheltering-at-home in response to COVID-19. These temporary CRCs will be open to customers when power is out at their homes and will provide ADA-accessible restrooms and hand-washing stations; medical-equipment charging; Wi-Fi; bottled water; and non-perishable snacks.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all CRCs will follow important health and safety protocols including:
How Customers Can Prepare for a PSPS
As part of PSPS preparedness efforts, PG&E suggests customers:
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 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.