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Business and Labor

PG&E Begins Restoring Power After Scaled-Back NorCal Safety Shutoff

Power lines
Public Domain Pictures

UPDATE: THURSDAY, NOV. 21, 9:45 a.m. ... Diminishing winds across Northern California have allowed Pacific Gas & Electric to begin inspections for wind damage to power lines and equipment. The utility has so far restored power to about 10,000 homes and businesses. The remaining 40,000 affected customers are expected to have power back by later today.

PG&E has been de-energizing large sections of its service area in recent weeks in response to high-wind events and dry vegetation conditions that pose a risk of sparking wildfires.

Company executives have said it could take ten years to "harden" the utility's power grid sufficiently to no longer require what the company calls "Public Safey Power Shutoffs" during fire weather events.

UPDATE: THURSDAY, NOV. 21, 5:15 a.m. ... Better-than-expected weather conditions allowed Pacific Gas and Electric to reduce the size of its Public Safety Power Shutoff yesterday. By 7p.m. Wednesday evening, the utility had cut electricity to 50,000 homes and businesses in parts of 11 Northern California counties, including in Shasta, Tehama and Mendocino Counties.

Gusts of up to 50 miles per hour were reported in parts of the afffected area Wednesday. Wind are expected to diminish this morning, allowing crews to inspect for damage to power lines and utility equipment. Once the all-clear is given, inspections and any necessary repairs will be performed before lines are re-energized.

PG&E has already staged resources, including 45 helicopters and 5,500 employees, in the impacted areas to expedite inspections as soon as the all-clear is received and it is light enough to do so.

Restoration will occur in stages depending on inspections and any repairs of wind damage to the electric system. Current weather predictions point to a possible restoration for most customers by late Thursday.
 

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, NOV. 20, 5:00 a.m. ... Pacific Gas and Electric  will move forward with a Public Safety Power Shutoff  beginning Wednesday morning in portions of the Sierra Foothills, the North Bay and the North Valley. The scaled-back shutoff is expected to affect about 150,000 homes and businesses in parts of 18 California counties, including Shasta, Tehama and Mendicino Counties. The shutoffs are expected to last until some time mid-to-late Thursday.

The decision was based on weather forecasts indicating the potential for high winds and dry conditions leading to increased wildfire risk from live power lines and utility equipment coming into contact with dry vegetation.

Forecasts indicate the period of peak winds should end mid-morning on Thursday. Once the high winds subside, PG&E will inspect the de-energized lines to ensure they were not damaged during the wind event, and then restore power.

PG&E will restore power in stages as quickly as possible, with the goal of restoring the most customers by end of day Thursday, based on the current weather conditions.

On PG&E’s website, the PSPS maps provide a visual representation of potentially impacted areas. The best way for customers to confirm if they will or won’t be affected by a PSPS is to use the online address lookup tool at www.pge.com/pspsupdates.

 

ORIGINAL POST: Pacific Gas and Electric Company has notified more than 300,000 homes and businesses in portions of 25 counties that they may have their power shut off starting Wednesday morning. Worsening dry conditions and expected high wind gusts pose an increased risk for damage and sparks on the electric system that have the potential to ignite wildfires in areas with dry vegetation. Customers in parts of Shasta, Tehama, Mendocino and Trinity Counties are among those who will be affected.

High fire-risk conditions are expected to begin early Wednesday morning and continue into Thursday. High winds are currently expected to subside Thursday mid-morning. PG&E will then inspect the de-energized lines to ensure they were not damaged during the wind event. PG&E will safely restore power in stages as quickly as possible, with the goal of restoring most customers by end of day Thursday, based on the current weather conditions.

For more details -- including affected areas -- click here.