SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has notified customers in targeted portions of 16 counties and two tribal communities about a potential Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) starting early Monday morning (Dec. 7). Dry conditions combined with expected high wind gusts pose an increased risk for damage to the electric system that has the potential to ignite fires in areas with dry vegetation.
High fire-risk conditions are expected to arrive late Sunday evening with high winds forecast to continue early Monday morning, peaking in strength during the day Monday, and possibly lingering in some regions through early Tuesday. Once the strong winds subside, PG&E crews will patrol the de-energized lines to ensure they were not damaged during the severe weather. PG&E will safely restore power as quickly as possible, with the goal of restoring most customers within 12 daylight hours, pending weather conditions.
Although there is still uncertainty regarding the strength and timing of this wind event, the shutoff is forecasted to affect approximately 92,000 customers in targeted portions of 16 counties, including Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Kern, Lake, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sonoma, Tulare, Tuolumne, and Yuba, as well as two tribal communities.
The number of customers expected to be impacted by this upcoming PSPS event has decreased to 92,000 from the earlier 130,000 originally in scope. The decrease is due to changing weather conditions resulting in the removal of Monterey and Sierra counties. However, Butte, Kern and Plumas counties have now been added to the PSPS scope area; there are less than 100 customers expected to be impacted in these counties combined.
The highest probability areas for this PSPS are the Central Sierra and the North Bay. This is not expected to be a widespread event in the Bay Area at this time.
When extreme weather conditions are forecasted, PG&E considers proactively turning off power for safety, as such weather conditions increase the potential for damage and hazards to PG&E’s electric infrastructure, which could cause sparks if lines are energized. These conditions also increase the potential for rapid fire spread.
Potential Public Safety Power Shutoff: What Customers Should Know
The potential PSPS event is still more than 24 hours away. PG&E’s in-house meteorologists as well as staff in its Wildfire Safety Operation Center and Emergency Operation Center continue to monitor conditions closely, and additional customer notifications will be issued as we move closer to the potential event.
Customer notifications—via text, email and automated phone call—began late yesterday afternoon, approximately two days prior to the potential shutoff. Additional customer notifications will be issued as we move closer to the potential event. Customers enrolled in the company’s Medical Baseline program who do not verify that they have received these important safety communications will be individually visited by a PG&E employee with a knock on their door when possible. A primary focus will be given to customers who rely on electricity for critical life-sustaining equipment.
The new stay-at-home order, issued yesterday, exempts essential workers in critical infrastructure sectors, including energy; PG&E employees are allowed to continue providing services.
While PSPS is an important wildfire safety tool, we know that losing power is disruptive, especially for those with medical needs, customers working from home and students engaging in distance learning in response to novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
PSPS events are a last resort when the weather forecast is so severe that people’s safety, lives, homes and businesses may be in danger of significant wildfires.
Potentially Affected Customers
Here is a list of customers by county who could potentially be affected by this PSPS event.
- Alpine County: 574 customers, 7 Medical Baseline customers
- Amador County: 4,244 customers, 318 Medical Baseline customers
- Butte County: 8,713 customers, 801 Medical Baseline customers
- Calaveras County: 10,867 customers, 450 Medical Baseline customers
- El Dorado County: 28,358 customers, 1,926 Medical Baseline customers
- Fresno County: 466 customers, 16 Medical Baseline customers
- Kern County: 5 customers, 0 Medical Baseline customers
- Lake County: 24 customers, 0 Medical Baseline customers
- Napa County: 2,378 customers, 104 Medical Baseline customers
- Nevada County: 22,931 customers, 1,313 Medical Baseline customers
- Placer County: 6,401 customers, 420 Medical Baseline customers
- Plumas County: 344 customers, 20 Medical Baseline customers
- Sonoma County: 66 customers, 1 Medical Baseline customers
- Tulare County: 233 customers, 3 Medical Baseline customers
- Tuolumne County: 5,173 customers, 232 Medical Baseline customers
- Yuba County: 1,507 customers, 125 Medical Baseline customers
- Total: 92,286 customers, 5,736 Medical Baseline customers
*The following Tribal Community counts are included within the County level detail above.
- Enterprise Rancheria Tribal community: 1 customer, 0 Medical Baseline customers
- Mooretown Rancheria Tribal community: 5 customers, 1 Medical Baseline customer
Customers can look up their address online to find out if their location is being monitored for the potential safety shutoff, and find the full list of affected counties, cities and communities, at www.pge.com/pspsupdates.
Outage and Backup Power Safety
Although backup power can be helpful during an outage, it also can pose safety hazards when not used correctly. Improper use can risk damage to your property, or endanger the lives of you, your family, or PG&E crews who may be working to restore power.
If you have a stand-by generator, make sure that it’s installed safely and inform PG&E to avoid risking damage to your property and endangering PG&E workers. Information on the safe installation of generators can be found on our website at www.pge.com/generator.
Community Resource Centers Reflect COVID-19 Safety Protocols
During PSPS events, PG&E opens temporary Community Resource Centers (CRCs) to support our customers. These CRCs are open to customers when power is out at their homes and provide ADA-accessible restrooms and hand-washing stations, medical-equipment charging, Wi-Fi, bottled water and non-perishable snacks. PG&E expects to begin opening CRCs on Monday morning if a PSPS is called.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all CRCs follow important health and safety protocols including:
- Facial coverings and maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet from those who are not part of the same household are required at all CRCs.
- Temperature checks are administered before entering CRCs that are located indoors.
- CRC staff are trained in COVID-19 precautions and regularly sanitize surfaces and use Plexiglass barriers at check-in.
- All CRCs follow county and state requirements regarding COVID-19, including limits on the number of customers permitted indoors at any time.
In addition to using existing indoor facilities, PG&E’s CRCs include outdoor, open-air sites in some locations and large commercial vans in other locations. CRC format will depend on several factors, including input from local and tribal leaders. Supplies are handed out in grab-and-go bags at outdoor CRCs so most customers can be on their way quickly.
Here’s Where to Go to Learn More
- PG&E’s emergency website (www.pge.com/pspsupdates) is now available in 15 languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Russian, Vietnamese, Korean, Farsi, Arabic, Hmong, Khmer, Punjabi, Japanese, Hindi, Portuguese and Thai. Customers can choose their language preference for viewing the information when visiting the website.
Customers are strongly encouraged to update their contact information and indicate their preferred language for notifications by visiting www.pge.com/mywildfirealerts or by calling 1-800-743-5000, where in-language support is available.
Tenants and non-account holders can sign up to receive PSPS Alerts for any address where they do not have a PG&E account by visiting www.pge.com/pspsalerts.
- PG&E has launched a tool at its online Safety Action Center (www.safetyactioncenter.pge.com) to help customers prepare for emergencies. By using the "Make Your Own Emergency Plan" tool and answering a few short questions, customers can compile and organize the important information needed for a personalized family emergency plan.
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 23,000 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.