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To make sure customers stay safe during planned wildfire safety outages, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) offers new and expanded customer resources in case Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) are needed this autumn. Because high winds may cause trees and debris to contact energized lines and possibly start a wildfire, PG&E may need to turn off power during dry, windy weather.
Each year, PG&E enhances the PSPS program by further refining the ability to identify and mitigate catastrophic wildfire risk. There was an 88% reduction in customers impacted by PSPS in 2021 compared to 2020, and a 43% reduction in the duration of outages during a PSPS in 2021 compared to 2019.
“System improvements and favorable weather meant that PSPS affected fewer customers last year than in 2020 and 2019,” said Mark Quinlan, Vice President of Electric System Operations at PG&E. “PG&E continues to use PSPS as a last resort to prevent catastrophic wildfires. Every day, PG&E is working hard to respond to the state’s changing climate, reduce wildfire risk across every part of the service territory and make the system safer.”
This year, PG&E is providing customers with several tools to help them prepare and stay safe during a planned power outage:
- The Generator and Battery Rebate Program has expanded to provide a $300 rebate to customers located in Tier 2 or 3 High Fire-Threat Districts (HFTD) and/or served by an Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings (EPSS)-protected circuit. If the customer is located outside of an HFTD but is served by an EPSS-capable circuit, they must have experienced two or more recent PSPS to qualify.
- Hotel discounts are now available as a new resource for customers who are experiencing a PSPS. PG&E is teaming up with IHG Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt, Choice, and Wyndham Hotels to offer customers discounted rooms as a safe space during a power outage.
- Transportation to Community Resource Centers (CRCs) has been expanded to provide accessible transportation to and from CRCs to customers in Shasta, El Dorado, Fresno, Marin, Sonoma, Solano, Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Tuolumne, Amador, Calaveras, and San Francisco Counties during a PSPS.
- Customers who depend on power for medical devices or assistive technologies may qualify for the Disability Disaster Access and Resources (DDAR) Program, a collaboration between PG&E and the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers. The program assists those who have medical and independent living needs with:
- Creating an emergency plan
- Signing up for the Medical Baseline Program
- Applying for a portable backup battery
- Obtaining ADA-accessible car rides and/or hotel stays during a PSPS
- Receiving food replacement during and after a PSPS
PG&E shares information in advance of and during PSPS outages as soon as possible. New this year, notifications will be sent both day and night, depending on when the dry, windy weather occurs and power will be out. PG&E understands this may mean customers are called at night and recognizes the inconvenience this may pose. In previous years, PG&E has not sent notifications between the hours of 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. However, due to requirements from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the policy has been updated. Although weather conditions can be uncertain, PG&E aims to send notifications via calls, texts and emails two days ahead of a PSPS, one day ahead, just before shutting off power, once power is turned off and daily until power is restored. PG&E will also send notifications if a PSPS outage is no longer expected. Customers can ensure their contact information is current by visiting pge.com/myalerts.
Customers can receive PSPS notifications for any important address such as their parents’ home, their children’s school or their business via text or phone call in 16 languages. Customers and non-account holders can sign up for Address Alerts at pge.com/addressalerts.
Wildfire Safety Video Hub
To help customers prepare for possible emergencies due to increasing wildfire risk, PG&E is expanding its wildfire safety and preparedness online toolkit. A new online Wildfire Safety Videos hub serves as a one-stop shop with easy-to-navigate videos about customer support and wildfire safety initiatives.
An in-depth look at customer resources before, during and after a PSPS is available at pge.com/pspsresources. Information about how PG&E is working every day to reduce wildfire risk can be found at pge.com/cwsp.