BUTTE COUNTY (CBS13) — Gusty winds pushing into Northern California forcing possible Pacific Gas and Electric Public Safety Power Shutoffs. Approximately 97,000 PG&E customers could lose power this weekend.
According to the PG&E website, the utility expanded the potential Public Safety Power Shutoff outage area Friday afternoon to include more counties and thousands of more customers.
The outage may now impact a total of 15 counties including parts of Placer, El Dorado, Yuba, Nevada, Calaveras and Butte counties. Some of the shutoffs may begin around 2 a.m. Sunday, while others will not start until 4 p.m., depending on the weather. The outages could last until Monday night.
Steve Smith has lived in Butte County for 30 years. He knows the drill when it comes to PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs but says this time around is harder than ever. He lost his home in the Bear Fire and is now living in a trailer. He's even invested hundreds of dollars in a power generator.
"About $900 in a generator, at least $11,000 plus the gas every day, two to three tanks," he said.
During the last shutoff, he says he lost over $300 in food.
"Need to get gas ready [for] the generators, otherwise you are going to lose everything again," Smith said.
A Red Flag Warning is being issued this weekend. The combination of strong winds, low humidity and warm temperatures is putting people in several counties on the utility's radar. By this weekend, tens of thousands could be without power until conditions become safer.
Mike and Kathleen Kelso always plan ahead.
"You know you got to have water and you know got to eat something," Mike Kelso said.
The couple also keeps tabs on PG&E updates.
"First thing I do is I get on the phone and make sure that we are shutoff and what are they thinking, what can we expect," he added.
The company tells CBS13 customers can go online and check their address to see if they will be impacted. Many are hoping they won't end up in the dark.
"I'm on the edge of town so it's always iffy with me. I was shut off last year, did a lot of clean up this year so I may not get shut off," Sue Chivrell explained.
On Thursday, the utility estimated that approximately 21,000 customers in Yuba, Butte and Plumas counties would be impacted by the PSPS event Saturday evening.
According to the utility, high winds and dry conditions in the northern Sacramento Valley and northern Sierra are posing an increased risk for damage to PG&E's electrical system, which could ignite wildfires in areas with dry vegetation.
PG&E said that although there is still uncertainty regarding the strength of this weather system, the high-risk conditions are expected to arrive Saturday evening and subside early Monday.
During the next 48 hours, PG&E said it will continue to monitor the forecasted weather event and issue more notifications as we inch closer to Saturday.
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