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PG&E Prepares Residents For Incoming Power Shut Off

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) updated Bay Area residents on an incoming power shutoff Monday as triple-digit temperatures, high winds and dry conditions posed possible wildfire hazards.

At a remote press conference Monday evening, PG&E senior manager Lynsey Paulo announced that PG&E issued a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) watch through the next two days. The PSPS starts Monday night between 9 p.m. and midnight, and affects a total 172,000 customers over 22 different counties.

PG&E states that the power will be fully restored by Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The first phase of the outage will affect around 104,000 and will stretch across several Northern California counties. The second phase on Tuesday at midnight and affects 67,000 customers. The third begins at noon Tuesday and only affects 638 customers.

PG&E plans to shut off power for 23,000 customers in Napa and Sonoma counties by 3 a.m., ahead of intense winds expected early that morning.

"We don't take this decision lightly. We understand the impact on our customers," PG&E Incident Commander Mark Quinlan said. "We believe these three areas of scope are at a high risk for fire conditions, and as such, as we intended to carry out the PSPS."

Not everyone loses power, as PG&E says about 69,000 customers in those areas will keep their power thanks to micro grid generation. PG&E also set up 47 community resource locations, where residents without power can charge their mobile devices and learn updates on the shut off.

Screen Shot 2020-09-07 at 6.32.24 PM
PG&E PSPS graphic (PG&E)

PG&E's announcement came after the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for the North Bay
and East Bay hills, that goes into effect from 10 p.m. Monday to 8 a.m. Wednesday. Fire danger in a region already ravaged by wildfires would be heightened by winds gusting from 30-50 mph. Of particular concern were the hills in the North Bay.

PG&E chief meteorologist Scott Strenful started off the press conference with a description of the weather conditions. For the past week PG&E meteorolgists had been collaborating with other meteorologists across the state of California, notably the National Weather Service and other national weather forecasting agencies, on the upcoming fire risks the next two days pose.

"All the agencies we talked to were in alignment: this will be a significant event," Strenful said.

In a previous announcement, PG&E said the PSPS could impact 5,656 customers in Napa County, including 186 medical baseline customers in Calistoga, Saint Helena and unincorporated areas. In neighboring Sonoma County, 210 customers faced the loss of power including 5 medical baseline customers in Cloverdale, Rohnert Park and unincorporated areas.

Areas that could be impacted during the first phase include Deer Park, Angwin, Calistoga, Aetna Springs, Berryessa Estates, the eastern slopes above St. Helena, and parts of Pope Valley. The city of Napa, Yountville and American Canyon are expected to retain their power, emergency officials said.

Officials said 48-hour notices had already gone out to customers who could be affected. Parts of all Bay Area counties except San Francisco were included in utility company maps of potential outages though PG&E said the changing weather conditions could alter those plans.

"We have worked the last year to enhance the PSPS program for our customers and it will be shorter, smaller, and smarter," said PG&E spokesperson Katie Allen. "One of those things is shorter. We expect to restore customers twice as fast."

PG&E has provided a website for updates on the PSPS:

Watch the video press conference above.

This story will be updated.

© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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