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PG&E Tracking Midweek Dry, Offshore Wind Event May Need to Proactively Turn Off Power for Safety in Portions of 15 Counties in Sierra Foothills and North Bay

Approximately 209,000 customers notified that they may be impacted beginning late Wednesday evening

Release Date: October 21, 2019
Contact: PG&E External Communications (415) 973-5930

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Since yesterday, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)'s emergency operations center has been open and teams have been monitoring a dry, offshore wind event. This afternoon, the company began its 48-hour advance notifications to customers that it may be proactively turning power off for safety and conducting a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) on late Wednesday evening.

The potential safety shutoff is planned for varying start times depending on location beginning Wednesday evening and is expected to affect approximately 209,000 customers and may impact portions of 15 counties in the Sierra Foothills and the North Bay, including Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Mateo, Sierra, Sonoma, Sutter, and Yuba.

Customer notifications via text, email and automated phone call began this afternoon, approximately 48 hours prior to the potential de-energization. Customers enrolled in the company's Medical Baseline program who do not verify that they have received these important safety communications will be individually visited by a PG&E employee with a knock on their door when possible. A primary focus will be given to those customers who rely on electricity for critical life-sustaining equipment.

Reason for PSPS

The sole purpose of a PSPS event is to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire ignitions. Windy conditions, like those being forecast later in the week, increase the potential for damage and hazards to the electric infrastructure, which could cause sparks if lines are energized. These conditions also increase the potential for rapid fire spread.

PG&E's meteorological and operations teams continue to monitor weather models that show potential strong and dry offshore wind gusts that may exceed 55 mph late Wednesday evening through Thursday afternoon for portions of the Sierra Foothills. Gusts of 35-45 mph have been forecast for some North Bay counties, with some localized areas expected to experience 55 mph gusts.

State officials classify more than half of PG&E's 70,000-square-mile service area in Northern and Central California as having a high fire threat, given dry grasses and the high volume of dead and dying trees. The state's high-risk areas have tripled in size in seven years.

"The sole purpose of PSPS is to significantly reduce catastrophic wildfire risk to our customers and communities. We know that sustained winds above 45 mph are known to cause damage to the lower-voltage distribution system and winds above 50 mph are known to cause damage to higher-voltage transmission equipment. As we saw in the last PSPS event, we had more than 100 instances of serious damage and hazard on our distribution and transmission lines from wind gusts of this strength," said Michael Lewis, Senior Vice President, PG&E Electric Operations.

Counties Potentially Impacted

CountyCustomersCities
Amador Total: 13,131
Medical Baseline: 661
Amador City, Fiddletown, Jackson, Martell, Pine Grove, Pioneer, Plymouth, River Pines, Sutter Creek, Volcano
Butte Total: 23,452
Medical Baseline: 1,762
Bangor, Berry Creek, Brush Creek, Butte Meadows, Butte Valley, Chico, Clipper Mills, Cohasset, Feather Falls, Forbestown, Forest Ranch, Hurleton, Magalia, Oroville, Palermo, Paradise, Paradise Pines, Rackerby, Stirling City, Yankee Hill
Calaveras Total: 14,586
Medical Baseline: 449
Angels Camp, Arnold, Avery, Camp Connell, Dorrington, Douglas Flat, Glencoe, Hathaway Pines, Mokelumne Hill, Mountain Ranch, Murphys, Rail Road Flat, San Andreas, Sheep Ranch, Vallecito, Valley Springs, West Point, White Pines, Wilseyville
El Dorado Total: 39,786
Medical Baseline: 1,917
Aukum, Cameron Park, Canyon, Camino, Coloma, Cool, Diamond Springs, El Dorado, Fair Play, Garden Valley, Georgetown, Greenwood, Grizzly Flats, Kelsey, Kyburz, Lotus, Mount Aukum, Omo Ranch, Pacific House, Pilot Hill, Placerville, Pollock Pines, Rescue, Shingle Springs, Silver Fork, Somerset, Twin Bridges
Lake Total: 1,895
Medical Baseline: 65
Cobb, Kelseyville, Loch Lomond, Middletown, Upper Lake
Mendocino Total: 862
Medical Baseline: 30
Fort Bragg, Hopland, Potter Valley, Redwood Valley, Ukiah, Yorkville
Napa Total: 9,623
Medical Baseline: 206
Angwin, Calistoga, Deer Park, Lake Berryessa, Napa, Oakville, Pope Valley, Rutherford, St Helena, Yountville
Nevada Total: 37,098
Medical Baseline: 1,630
Chicago Park, Grass Valley, Nevada City, North San Juan, Penn Valley, Rough And Ready, Soda Springs, Washington
Placer Total: 18,773
Medical Baseline: 820
Alta, Applegate, Auburn, Baxter, Colfax, Dutch Flat, Emigrant Gap, Foresthill, Gold Run, Lincoln, Loomis, Meadow Vista, Newcastle, Rocklin, Sheridan, Weimar, Christian Valley
Plumas Total: 785
Medical Baseline: 6
Belden, Bucks Lake, La Porte, Quincy, Storrie, Tobin, Twain
San Mateo Total: 6,462
Medical Baseline: 104
Emerald Hills, Half Moon Bay, La Honda, Loma Mar, Pescadero, Portola Valley, Rackerby, Redwood City, San Gregorio, Woodside
Sierra Total: 1,160
Medical Baseline: 14
Alleghany, Downieville, Goodyears Bar, Pike, Sierra City
Sonoma Total: 33,613
Medical Baseline: 1,082
Annapolis, Boyes Hot Springs, Cloverdale, Fulton, Geyserville, Glen Ellen, Guerneville, Healdsburg, Kenwood, Larkfield, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Windsor
Sutter Total: 229
Medical Baseline: 4
Pleasant Grove, Rio Oso
Yuba Total: 7,474
Medical Baseline: 447
Browns Valley, Brownsville, Camptonville, Challenge, Dobbins, Loma Rica, Marysville, Oregon House, Smartsville, Strawberry Valley, Wheatland

Improvements Since the Last PSPS

A number of improvements have been implemented since the last PSPS event on October 9-12. For example:

  • For this event, customers visiting the pge.com website are being redirected to a special, strength-tested site that can accommodate high volumes of traffic. The temporary site provides address lookup for affected customers, Community Resource Center locations as they become available, and other PSPS event-related information. During this time, online services such as energy bill payment, will be unavailable until after power has been restored.
  • In addition, the company's contact center will be better able to manage increased call volume due to the event and is prioritizing emergency, outage and PSPS-related inquiries. All other normal business inquiries for topics such as bill payment, account balances, appointments, and starting or stopping service will be able to use the self-service option or will be asked to call after the PSPS period.
  • On Wednesday, Community Resource Centers will be opened across the affected areas to provide restrooms, bottled water, electronic-device charging and air-conditioned seating. The centers will be accessible to customers with functional needs and will be staffed from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. until the areas are fully restored to power. Locations will be posted on the event website, accessible via pge.com.
  • The company is working to strengthen coordination with government agencies, in particular the counties, cities, and tribal governments in its service area. It has established a single point of contact for each county and now has a dedicated agency helpline monitored 24/7 for special requests from counties and tribes.

Public Safety Power Shutoff Criteria

No single factor drives a Public Safety Power Shutoff, as each situation is unique. PG&E carefully reviews a combination of many criteria when determining if power should be

turned off for safety. These factors generally include, but are not limited to:

  • A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service
  • Low humidity levels, generally 20 percent and below
  • Forecasted sustained winds generally above 25 mph and wind gusts in excess of approximately 45 mph, depending on location and site-specific conditions such as temperature, terrain and local climate
  • Condition of dry fuel on the ground and live vegetation (moisture content)
  • On-the-ground, real-time observations from PG&E's Wildfire Safety Operations Center and observations from PG&E field crews

How Customers Can Prepare

As part of PSPS preparedness efforts, PG&E is asking customers to:

  • Plan for medical needs like medications that require refrigeration or devices that need power.
  • Identify backup charging methods for phones and keep hard copies of emergency numbers.
  • Build or restock your emergency kit with flashlights, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash.
  • Keep in mind family members who are elderly, younger children and pets.
  • Learn more about wildfire risk and what to do before, during and after an emergency to keep your family safe at PG&E's Safety Action Center.

While customers in high fire-threat areas are more likely to be affected by a Public Safety Power Shutoff event, any of PG&E's more than 5 million electric customers could have their power shut off because the energy system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity across cities, counties and regions. This PSPS event is expected to be smaller in scope than the Oct. 9-12 PSPS.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.

 

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