SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) continues to monitor and prepare for a powerful, offshore weather event expected to bring the risk of potential widespread wind-driven damage and related outages throughout the company’s service area. PG&E’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is open and the company’s meteorologists are monitoring conditions.
In locations still enduring extremely dry winter conditions, PG&E has notified a targeted number of customers (6,100) in small portions of Fresno, Kern, Madera, Mariposa and Tulare counties about a potential Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) Monday night. Approximately 15,000 customers and four counties were removed from a potential PSPS scope overnight. Those customers who will no longer be impacted by a PSPS are being notified about their updated status.
Due to recent rains, relatively high humidity levels and the lack of any Red Flag Warnings in the Bay Area and some other parts of PG&E’s service area, the company does not anticipate the need for a PSPS in any Bay Area counties during this weather event.
In addition, PG&E’s network of 340 weather cameras across the service area, as well as visual checks by crews in the field, helps the company determine where vegetation has greened up to levels that help make PSPS events unnecessary.
Potential effects associated with the system will vary across PG&E’s service territory and could include:
- Potential for widespread wind and weather-related outage activity due to flying debris and downed power lines throughout the service territory.
- Potential for small, targeted Public Safety Power Shutoffs in parts of the service area where vegetation is extremely dry due to lack of seasonal rain.
Forecasts show high-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 PSPS 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 wind event, which PG&E is carefully monitoring. Weather conditions can change quickly. We remind our customers to have an emergency plan and make sure we have up-to-date contact information.
Potential for Wind Damage Across PG&E’s Service Area
The offshore weather event is expected to produce damaging winds across much of California beginning today and extending into early next week. While there may not be a PSPS due to recent rainfall in many parts of PG&E’s service area, there could be wires down and outages due to flying debris and vegetation.
- Never touch downed wires: 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.
If your vehicle comes in contact with a downed power line:
- Stay inside! The safest place is in your car. The ground around your car may be energized.
- Honk the horn, roll down your window and yell for help.
- Warn others to stay away. Anyone who touches the equipment or ground around the vehicle may be injured.
- Use your mobile phone to call 911.
- Fire department, police and PG&E workers will tell you when it is safe to get out of the vehicle.
Potential for Small, Targeted Public Safety Power Shutoff: What People Should Know
The potential PSPS event is still one day 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 Saturday 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
- Fresno County: 2,220 customers, 139 Medical Baseline customers
- Kern County: 618 customers, 33 Medical Baseline customers
- Madera County: 289 customers, 20 Medical Baseline customers
- Mariposa County: 2,532 customers, 164 Medical Baseline customers
- Tulare County: 435 customers, 8 Medical Baseline customers
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.
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:
- 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
- A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service
- 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
Here’s Where to Go to Learn More
- PG&E’s emergency website (www.pge.com/pspsupdates) is now available in 16 languages. Currently, the website is available in 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 1-800-743-5000, 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.
- PG&E has launched a new tool at its online Safety Action Center (www.safetyactioncenter.pge.com) to help customers prepare. 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.
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:
- Facial coverings and maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet from those who are not part of the same household will be required at all CRCs.
- Temperature checks will be administered before entering CRCs that are located indoors.
- CRC staff will be trained in COVID-19 precautions and will regularly sanitize surfaces and use Plexiglass barriers at check-in.
- All CRCs will follow county and state requirements regarding COVID-19, including limits on the number of customers permitted indoors at any time.
How Customers Can Prepare for a PSPS
As part of PSPS preparedness efforts, PG&E suggests customers:
- 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.
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.