Published: Wed, October 09, 2019
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Unprecedented power shutdown coming as winds bring critical fire danger

Unprecedented power shutdown coming as winds bring critical fire danger

PG&E Corp., the California utility giant forced into bankruptcy by two years of devastating wildfires, warned that it may orchestrate its biggest planned blackout yet to keep power lines from sparking more blazes.

PG&E noted that customers in the almost 34 counties - Alameda, Butte, Contra Costa, Napa, Placer, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, Sonoma among them - could be affected.

It may take several days to fully restore power, Michael Lewis, senior vice-president of PG&E's electric operations, said in a statement.

The company has been notifying potentially impacted customers and will continue to do so, via automated calls, texts and emails.

Due to a potentially widespread, strong and dry wind event starting Wednesday morning, there is a potential for a Public Safety Power Shutoff to affect 5,700 Yolo County customers during the period of Wednesday, Oct. 9 - Thursday, Oct. 10 in the areas of Winters, Madison, Esparto, Guinda, Rumsey, Brooks, and Capay. 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.

The National Weather Service has posted red flag warnings in parts of six western states, meaning fire danger is high. This is because the electric system relies on power lines networked across cities, counties and regions.

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Since the company's power lines have caused numerous wildfires in recent years, especially during windy conditions, they have made a decision to turn off the power during periods of high fire danger rather than harden their infrastructure to make it resistant to strong winds.

Portions of Kern, Humboldt, Trinity and Marin counties have been added to the potential scope of this PSPS, in addition to the 30 counties identified Monday. The strong and dry wind event, forecast for Wednesday morning through Thursday afternoon, could impact much of PG&E's service area, which includes northern, coastal and Bay Area counties.

PG&E will work with state and local agencies to provide updated restoration timelines following the conclusion of the severe weather event.

To see if your address is affected, visit www.pge.com/psps, click "Get Current Information", then click "Check the Map".

· Keep in mind elderly family members, younger children and pets.

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