PG&E cuts power

Strategy to reduce fire

Krys Shahin, @Krysshah

Electric company Pacific Gas & Electric Company, PG&E, announced Oct. 6 that they were aware of high winds and dry conditions being forecast for the coming week and issued warnings for potential power outages in areas of California to prevent wildfires. That warning became a notice Oct. 8 at 1:33 p.m. through a Twitter post on the company’s official account.

The outage was declared to start Wednesday, Oct. 9 at midnight and last until at least Thursday at 5 p.m., with the potential to last five or more days, depending on the location.

“Overall, based on the latest weather forecasts and models, PG&E anticipates that this weather event will last through midday Thursday,” said the company in an official comment on the situation.

35 counties in California are expected to be affected by this power outage. PG&E estimate more than 800,000 customers will be affected, but other sources are reporting that number will be much higher. 

At 2:36 p.m. Oct. 8, an alert was sent to students and staff in the district through EMERAlert, a way to notify everyone of emergencies affecting the school or communities. The alert read, “PG&E has notified Contra Costa County (County) for a possible power shutoff event due to gusty winds and dry conditions that will affect parts of the County. Current projections indicate none of our District locations will be affected. All locations are open and classes are in session.”

“Before restoring power, PG&E must inspect its equipment for damage and make any necessary repairs. That process cannot begin until the severe weather event has subsided,” said PG&E. “Given the prolonged period during which the wind event will unfold, and the large number of power line miles that will need to be inspected before restoration, customers are being asked to prepare for an extended outage.”

Larger cities in the Bay Area like San Jose, Oakland, Fremont, Santa Rosa, Hayward, Berkeley, Fairfield, Richmond, San Mateo and San Leandro are included in this zone. Even parts of Antioch, Pittsburg and Half Moon Bay are said to be affected. 

This outage is in response to high winds, forecast to be at 45 miles per hour on average with 60 to 70 mph gusts, which can potentially help start and escalate fires during dry and hot days.

To company is practicing caution as to prevent a repeat of what happened in 2017, where it was found that PG&E power lines were the cause of massive wildfires through California and resulted in the loss of 46 lives. The fires lead to thousands of lawsuits against the company, forcing them into bankruptcy.

From the official PG&E Twitter, @PGE4ME, “To reduce wildfire risk during the forecasted severe wind event, PG&E will implement a Public Safety Power Shutoff (#PSPS) in parts of northern, central and coastal counties. PG&E expects to begin turning off power later tonight, just after midnight.”

The company said different communities will lose power at different times “depending on local timing of the severe wind conditions,” beginning up north.

Though there may not be high temperatures in your area, PG&E may still cut power to your city due to the connections of power lines and grids. 

“Customers notified of a #PSPS may be affected by a power shutoff even though they are not experiencing extreme weather conditions in their location. The electric system relies on power lines working together across cities, counties and regions,” said PGE4ME. 

On the company’s social media, they’ve provided links and reminders on how to prepare or make sure you are prepared for an event like this. There are also links to “PG&E Community Resource Centers” starting Oct. 9, in each affected county that will be open during the day for 100 people with water, bathrooms, A/C and ways to charge electronic devices. 

A small fire was started and put out, only burning 300 acres of land with no injuries reported Oct.10.

Southern California is now fighting fires as of publishing.