SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. October 19, 2020 – Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has notified customers in targeted portions of 19 counties and two tribal communities about a potential Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) as early as Wednesday evening. Hot and dry conditions combined with expected high wind gusts pose an increased risk for damage to the electric system that has the potential to ignite fires in areas with dry vegetation.
High fire-risk conditions are expected to arrive Wednesday evening in Northern California and continue through Friday morning primarily in the following areas:
- Northern Sacramento Valley and adjacent elevated terrain;
- The Northern Sierra Nevada generally north of I-80;
- The North Bay mountains; and
- Mt. Diablo in the East Bay.
When high risk weather subsides, PG&E will inspect the de-energized lines to ensure they were not damaged during the wind event. PG&E will then safely restore power as quickly as possible, with the goal of restoring most customers within 12 daylight hours, based on current weather conditions.
While there is still uncertainty regarding the strength and timing of this weather wind event, the shutoff is forecasted to affect about 50,000 customers in targeted portions of 19 counties, including Alameda, Butte, Colusa, Contra Costa, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Napa, Plumas, Santa Clara, Shasta, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo and Yuba. A small number of customers in two tribal communities may also be affected.
Potential Public Safety Power Shutoff: What People Should Know
The potential PSPS event is still two days away. PG&E in-house meteorologists as well as staff in its Wildfire Safety Operation Center and Emergency Operation Center will continue to monitor conditions closely, and additional customer notifications will be issued as we move closer to the potential event.
Customer notifications—via text, email and automated phone call—began late this 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 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.
Potentially Affected Customers
Below is a list of customers who could potentially be affected by this PSPS event.
- Alameda County: 3,485 customers, 190 Medical Baseline customers
- Butte County: 11,243 customers, 985 Medical Baseline customers
- Colusa County: 565 customers, 31 Medical Baseline customers
- Contra Costa County: 536 customers, 42 Medical Baseline customers
- Glenn County: 377 customers, 18 Medical Baseline customers
- Humboldt County: 298 customers, 5 Medical Baseline customers
- Lake County: 963 customers, 69 Medical Baseline customers
- Lassen County: 319 customers, 17 Medical Baseline customers
- Napa County: 2,032 customers, 82 Medical Baseline customers
- Plumas County: 347 customers, 17 Medical Baseline customers
- Santa Clara County: 236 customers, 9 Medical Baseline customers
- Shasta County: 20,091 customers, 1,556 Medical Baseline customers
- Solano County: 49 customers, 4 Medical Baseline customers
- Sonoma County: 626 customers,18 Medical Baseline customers
- Stanislaus County: 33 customers, 0 Medical Baseline customers
- Tehama County: 7,421 customers, 650 Medical Baseline customers
- Trinity County: 458 customers, 21 Medical Baseline customers
- Yolo County: 11 customers, 0 Medical Baseline customers
- Yuba County: 1,324 customers, 96 Medical Baseline customers
- Total*: 50,414 customers, 3,810 Medical Baseline customers
- Cortina Rancheria Tribal community: 8 customers, 1 Medical Baseline customer
- Grindstone Rancheria Tribal community: 49 customers, 3 Medical Baseline customers
Why PG&E Calls a PSPS Event
Due to forecasted severe weather conditions, PG&E is considering proactively turning off power for safety. Windy conditions, like those being forecast, 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.
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.
No single factor drives a PSPS, 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:
- 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
- A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service
- 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