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PG&E Restores Most NorCal Power, Efforts Continue Thursday

Photo by Nishanth K on Unsplash

UPDATE: THURSDAY, OCT.31, 5:00 a.m. ... Most of the PG&E customers who lost power during the latest Public Safety Power Shutoff have had their electricity restored, the utility reported late Wednesday night. Homes and businesses in Humboldt, Siskiyou, Trinity and Tehama Counties are among the 312,000 customers whose lights are back on, some after days of outage.

Parts of Shasta, Mendocino and 12 other counties remain in the dark. Crews are slated to resume work at daylight Thursday to restore power to the 53,000 customers who are still without electricity.

PG&E has shut off power four times this month during high wind events to prevent wildfires. The utility says inspections have found dozens of instances of damage to power lines and equipment caused by the recent series of wind storms, many of which could have started wildfires, had those lines been energized.

Meteorologists see no wind storms on the horizon for at least the next week. PG&E advises customers to take advantage of the break in the weather to re-stock emergency kits and supplies in preparation for more potential Public Safety Power Shutoffs if high winds return.

PG&E officials have said it could take a decade or more to harden the utility's power grid to minimize wildfire risk. They say periodic power shut-offs during high wind events could be common for years to come.


UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, OCT. 30, 3:00 a.m. ... Pacific Gas & Electric says that as of late Tuesday night, it had restored power to nearly three quarters of the 970,000 homes and businesses affected by its Oct. 26 shut-off. But a new wind storm led the utility to shut off power again on Tuesday, leaving 540,000 customers in parts of 27 counties in the dark.

Due to shifting weather conditions, PG&E says, power was not cut off to the customers in Siskiyou and Humboldt Counties whom it had earlier said would lose electricity again on Tuesday.

By 5 p.m., as high winds diminsihed, the utility issued an "all-clear" in several counties affected by the Tuesday shut-off, including Shasta, Tehama and Trinity. That means crews began inspecting power lines and equipment for damage in preparation for re-energizing those areas. Inspections will resume at daylight and power is expected to begin being restored on Wednesday. Some areas aren't expected to get power back until as late as Saturday.

You can get the latest information on PG&E's outage map.

PG&E says inspections following the Oct. 26 shut-off found more than 55 instances of damage to power equipment that could have caused wildfires, had the power been on at the time.

PG&E meteorologists say they don't see another wind storm in the forecast for at least another week.

UPDATE: TUESDAY, OCT. 29, 5:00 a.m. ... Pacific Gas & Electric says that as of 10:00 Monday night, it had restored power to nearly 60 percent of the customers across Central and Northern California who had been affected by its largest-ever intentional shut-off over the weekend.

But the utility also says that by 9:00 Tuesday morning, most of the areas of Humboldt, Trinity, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Mendocino and other counties that were without power since Saturday may be shut off again in response to another anticipated wind storm.

PG&E says it's begun de-energizing power lines to customers in the areas expected to experience yet another Public Safety Power Shutoff in 29 counties. This smaller shut-off is expected to affect just over 600,000 homes and businesses, about 134,000 of them in the JPR listening area. The wind event is expected to last into Wednesday; power could be off in some areas into Thursday.

This is the fourth time this month PG&E has turned off power to large swathes of the state to head off the danger of high winds damaging its power lines and transmission equipment, possibly triggering a wildfire.

Firefighters continue to battle the Kincade fire in Sonoma County's wine country. As of 10:00 Monday night, Cal Fire reported the fire was at 74,324 acres and was 15 percent contained.

Authorities are investigating the possibility that PG&E equipment may have sparked the Kincade fire during high winds last week. Meanwhile, the utility has admitted its powerlines may have started two small fires about 20 miles east of San Francisco


UPDATE: MONDAY, OCT. 28, 5:00 a.m. ...Pacific Gas & Electric announced Sunday night it expects to begin restoring power today in Humboldt, Siskiyou, Trinity, northern Mendocino and parts of Lake County.

But the utility said yet another round of power shut-offs could start Tuesday even as millions of Californians were still without electricity from outages that began this weekend in much of the region.

It would be the third planned outage from the utility this week to try and prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires amid dry weather and historically strong winds.

The company said that the latest power shut-off would affect people in 32 counties starting Tuesday morning through midday Wednesday, and warned some customers may experience continuous outages.

PG&E says the current shut-offs began around 5 p.m. Saturday in the Sierra foothills and north of the San Francisco Bay Area. Blackouts are affecting parts of 38 counties and last until at least Monday. In addition to the public safety shutoffs, PG&E said roughly 100,000 customers were affected by "emergent outages." 

You can view outage details on PG&E’s outage map

The California Health and Human Services has established an emergency hotline to help those who are medically vulnerable and help health facilities find resources during the shutoffs. The hotline is (833) 284-3473. 

PG&E said at a press conference Sunday evening that restoration efforts had begun early for affected areas in the North Valley, Northern Sierra and North Coast, including eight of the affected 38 counties.

The utility said "all-clears" — when restoration patrols can begin — would occur for all the remaining areas between 6 and 8 a.m. Monday morning.

The National Weather Service has called a red flag warning for much of Northern California amid very dry conditions and what they call "the strongest wind event" this season. PG&E is advising customers to prepare for outages lasting several days.

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