Forecasted Highest Winds and Driest Conditions of the Season Mean PG&E May Need to Proactively Turn Off Power for Safety to Customers Across Northern and Central California
Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) Emergency Operations Center, Meteorology team and Wildfire Safety Operations Center are working together and tracking a significant, offshore wind event starting Sunday that is forecast to have the driest humidity levels and the strongest winds of the wildfire season thus far.
PG&E has notified customers in targeted portions of 38 counties about a potential Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) expected to start as early as Sunday morning (Oct. 25). Extremely dry, windy conditions with high gusts pose an increased risk for damage to the electric system that has the potential to ignite fires in areas with critically dry vegetation.
While there is still uncertainty regarding the strength and timing of this weather wind event, high fire-risk conditions are expected to arrive Sunday morning. High winds are currently expected to subside Monday morning (Oct. 26) in most impacted areas, with windy conditions lingering in some regions through early Tuesday (Oct. 27). PG&E will then patrol the de-energized lines to assess whether they were damaged during the wind event. PG&E will safely restore power as quickly as possible, with the goal of restoring most customers within 12 daylight hours, based on current weather conditions.
The highest probability areas for this PSPS include terrain of the northern and western Sacramento Valley, Northern and Central Sierra as well as higher terrain of the Bay Area, including the Santa Cruz Mountains, Central Coast Region and portions of southern Kern.
Customer Notification and Impact
The potential PSPS event is still approximately 24 hours away. PG&E in-house meteorologists, as well as staff in its Wildfire Safety Operations Center and Emergency Operations Center, will continue to monitor conditions closely and will actively look for opportunities to reduce the scope of the impacts based on evolving weather models and PSPS mitigation efforts such as the use of sectionalizing devices and temporary generation. Additional customer notifications will be issued as we move closer to the potential event.
Customer notifications—via text, email and automated phone call—began Friday afternoon, approximately two days prior to the potential shutoff. 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 in person by a PG&E employee with a knock on their door when possible. A primary focus will be given to customers who rely on electricity for critical life-sustaining equipment.