SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) opened its emergency operations center today, and the company’s meteorologists and operations professionals are monitoring a potential dry offshore wind event forecasted to start Tuesday evening (Aug. 17). Given this wind event and current conditions including extreme to exceptional drought and extremely dry vegetation, PG&E has begun sending 48-hour advance notifications to customers in targeted areas where PG&E may need to proactively turn power off for safety to reduce the risk of wildfire from energized power lines.
Potential Public Safety Power Shutoff Tuesday Night
The potential PSPS event starting Tuesday night could affect approximately 39,000 customers in small portions of 16 counties in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the North Coast, the North Valley and the North Bay mountains. While the majority of customers—about 27,000—are in Butte and Shasta counties, we are also notifying customers who may experience safety shutoffs in portions of 14 other counties: Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Napa, Plumas, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo and Yuba.
The potential PSPS event is approximately 48 hours away and conditions may change. PG&E’s in-house meteorologists, as well as its Wildfire Safety Operations Center and Emergency Operations Center, continue to closely monitor conditions. We will share additional customer notifications as conditions evolve.
Customer notifications—via text, email and automated phone call—began Sunday evening, approximately two days prior to the potential shutoff. PG&E employees will pay individual, in-person visits when possible to customers enrolled in the company’s Medical Baseline program who do not verify that they have received these important safety communications, with a primary focus on customers who rely on electricity for critical life-sustaining equipment.
Potentially Affected Counties
Customers can look up their address online to find out if their location is being monitored for the potential safety shutoff at www.pge.com/pspsupdates.
The potential shutoff is currently expected to affect approximately 39,000 customers across the following counties:
- Butte County: 13,841 customers, 1,366 Medical Baseline customers
- Glenn County: 17 customers, 2 Medical Baseline customers
- Humboldt County: 643 customers, 13 Medical Baseline customers
- Lake County: 2,727 customers, 184 Medical Baseline customers
- Lassen County: 65 customers, 7 Medical Baseline customers
- Mendocino County: 239 customers, 15 Medical Baseline customers
- Napa County: 1,804 customers, 87 Medical Baseline customers
- Plumas County: 778 customers, 27 Medical Baseline customers
- Shasta County: 14,027 customers, 1,239 Medical Baseline customers
- Sierra County: 1,035 customers, 30 Medical Baseline customers
- Solano County: 71 customers, 3 Medical Baseline customers
- Sonoma County: 106 customers, 1 Medical Baseline customer
- Tehama County: 2,856 customers, 219 Medical Baseline customers
- Trinity County: 426 customers, 21 Medical Baseline customers
- Yolo County: 100 customers, 4 Medical Baseline customers
- Yuba County: 531 customers, 49 Medical Baseline customers
Public Safety Power Shutoffs: What PG&E Customers Should Know
Why PG&E Calls a PSPS Event
We initiate Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) when the weather forecast is for such severe weather that people’s safety, lives, homes and businesses may be in danger of wildfires.
As each weather situation is unique, we carefully review a combination of factors when deciding if power must be turned off. These factors include:
- Low humidity levels, generally 30% and below.
- A forecast of high winds, particularly sustained winds above 20 miles per hour and wind gusts above 30-40 miles per hour.
- Condition of dry material on the ground and low moisture content of vegetation.
- A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service.
- Real-time ground observations from our Wildfire Safety Operations Center and from our crews working across the service territory.
This year, our decision-making process is evolving to also account for the presence of trees tall enough to strike power lines when determining if a PSPS event is necessary.
Every wildfire season is different, and the ongoing drought and the conditions will determine the number of times we will need to shut off power, without compromising safety.
This set of criteria is a first step which may lead to further analysis from our meteorology team to determine if a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event is necessary.
Here’s Where to Learn More
- 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 1-800-743-5000, 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.
- 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.
PG&E's Commitment to Wildfire Safety
PG&E's multi-faceted Community Wildfire Safety Program includes both immediate and long-term action plans to further reduce wildfire risk and keep its customers and communities safe.
Since 2018, PG&E's wildfire safety work has resulted in:
- Multiple inspections of distribution, transmission and substation equipment in high fire-threat areas
- Hardening more than 600 miles with stronger lines and poles to better withstand severe weather
- Conducting enhanced vegetation safety work on nearly 5,000 line miles in high fire-threat areas (this is in addition to the more than 5 million trees that PG&E has trimmed or removed as part of its routine vegetation management and tree mortality efforts)
- Installing more than 1,000 sectionalizing devices and switches that limit the size of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) that are necessary to mitigate the risk of wildfires
- Installing more than 1,150 advanced weather stations to help PG&E gather more data and information to better predict and respond to extreme weather threats
- Installing more than 400 high-definition cameras to monitor and respond to wildfires
- Reserving more than 65 helicopters to quickly restore power after severe weather during PSPS events
- Monitoring wildfire threats in real-time through a dedicated team at PG&E's Wildfire Safety Operations Center, which is staffed 24 hours a day during wildfire season
Ongoing PG&E Wildfire Mitigation and Resiliency Efforts
In addition to significantly expanding its undergrounding, PG&E's ongoing safety work to enhance grid resilience and address the growing threat of severe weather and wildfires continues on a risk-based and data-driven basis, as outlined in PG&E's 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.