Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has restored power to essentially all customers who can receive service that were impacted by the Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event that started Wednesday evening (Oct. 14). PG&E called the PSPS event due to a high-wind event combined with low humidity and severely dry vegetation, which together created high risk of catastrophic wildfires.
Customers Impacted by PSPS Event
The PSPS affected about 41,000 customers in targeted portions of 24 counties: Alameda, Butte, Contra Costa, Humboldt, Lake, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Plumas, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo and Yuba.
Specifically, impacted customers were located in the following targeted areas, all of which were covered by National Weather Service Red Flag Warnings that indicate critical fire weather conditions.
- The Northern Sierra Nevada foothills;
- The mid and higher elevations in the Sierra generally north of Yosemite;
- The North Bay mountains near Mt. St. Helena;
- Small pockets in the East Bay near Mt. Diablo;
- A pocket of the Oakland Hills east of Piedmont (generally between Highway 24 and Upper San Leandro Reservoir);
- The elevated terrain east of Milpitas around the Calaveras Reservoir; and
- Portions of the Santa Cruz and Big Sur mountains.
Weather “All Clear,” Inspection and Restoration Process
In some locations, the severe weather subsided enough during the day yesterday (Oct. 15) for PG&E’s Meteorology team to issue some “weather all clears,” meaning that electric crews could begin patrols of power lines as the first step toward restoration. Power lines must be visually inspected to ensure that no wind-driven damage or hazards such as tree limbs, debris or other material were blown into the lines. Once inspected, the lines can be energized, restoring service to customers. Yesterday, PG&E restored about 10,000 customers who had been de-energized for this event.
This morning (Oct. 16), PG&E was able to issue the “weather all clear” for all remaining areas of the PSPS footprint. More than 1,200 PG&E employees have been working on the ground or in 47 helicopters inspecting about 3,200 miles of lines for damage or hazards.
The majority of the remaining 31,000 customers affected by this PSPS event were restored by early Friday evening.
Wind Speeds Recorded; Damage and Hazards Identified
Wind gusts of more than 50 miles per hour (MPH) were recorded in multiple high fire danger areas including Napa, San Mateo, and Yolo counties. Peak wind gusts exceeded this with Contra Costa County at 61 MPH, Butte County at 64 MPH, and Sonoma County at 73 MPH.
Preliminary data shows 30 instances of weather-related damage and hazards in the PSPS-affected areas. Examples include downed lines and vegetation on power lines. If PG&E had not de-energized power lines, these types of damage could have caused wildfire ignitions.
More Information on PG&E PSPS events
PG&E’s goal is to restore electric service to essentially all customers affected by the PSPS who can receive power within 12 daylight hours of the “weather all clear” for each affected area.
PG&E uses a PSPS only as the last resort to protect community and customer safety against wildfires, given dry and windy weather, dry vegetation and an elevated fire risk across portions of its service area. Wind gusts as high as 73 mph were recorded during this PSPS event.
PG&E will submit a report detailing damages from the severe weather conditions to the California Public Utilities Commission within 10 days of the completion of the PSPS.
For more information on the PSPS event, visit pge.com/pspsupdates.
Prevention, preparedness and support
It is important that PG&E has your current contact information so you can be notified and better prepared if a wildfire or PSPS event may impact your home or business. To set up your alerts, visit pge.com/alerts.
With the increased wildfire threat our state faces, PG&E is enhancing and expanding our efforts to reduce wildfire risks and keep our customers and communities safe. Our Community Wildfire Safety Program includes short, medium and long-term plans to make our system safer. For tips on how to prepare for emergencies and outages, visit our Safety Action Center at safetyactioncenter.pge.com.
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 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.