High Winds, Drought Conditions Mean PG&E May Need to Proactively Turn Off Power for Safety Tuesday through Wednesday Afternoon in Small Parts of 18 Counties

PG&E Is Sending One-Day Notifications to About 48,000 Customers Who Might Experience a Public Safety Power Shutoff

Potential Safety Shutoffs May Last Through an All-Clear Wednesday Afternoon, Will Mostly Affect Butte and Shasta Counties

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) continues to monitor a dry offshore wind event forecasted to start Tuesday night (August 17). As a result of this wind event, combined with extreme to exceptional drought conditions and extremely dry vegetation, PG&E began sending one-day advance notifications Monday afternoon to customers in areas where PG&E may need to proactively turn off power for safety to reduce the risk of wildfire from energized power lines.

The potential Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event, starting Tuesday evening and forecasted to last through Wednesday afternoon, could affect about 48,000 customers in small portions of 18 counties in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the North Coast, the North Valley and the North Bay mountains.

PG&E meteorologists are tracking a weather system in those areas that could bring sustained winds of up to 40 mph, gusting higher in foothills and mountains. The National Weather Service issued Fire Weather Watches in the areas Tuesday through Wednesday based on forecasts for dry, northerly winds and low relative humidity. In addition, the Northern California Geographic Area Coordination Center’s North Operations Predictive Services issued a high-risk fire warning Tuesday through Wednesday due to “an unusually gusty early-season” wind event.

While most of the affected customers—approximately 31,000—are in Butte and Shasta counties, we are also notifying customers in small portions of 16 other counties: Colusa, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Plumas, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo and Yuba.

The potential PSPS event is still about 24 hours away. PG&E’s in-house meteorologists, its Wildfire Safety Operations Center and its Emergency Operations Center continue to monitor conditions closely. We will share additional customer notifications as conditions evolve.

Customer notifications via text, email and automated phone call began Sunday night, two days prior to the potential shutoff. PG&E employees will pay individual, in-person visits when possible to customers enrolled in the company’s Medical Baseline program who do not verify that they have received these important safety communications, with a primary focus on customers who rely on electricity for critical life-sustaining equipment.

Potentially Affected Counties

Customers can look up their address at www.pge.com/pspsupdates to see if PG&E is monitoring their location for the potential safety shutoff.

The potential shutoff is expected to affect approximately 48,000 customers in these counties:

  • Butte County: 11,114 customers, 1,027 Medical Baseline customers
  • Colusa County: 509 customers, 33 Medical Baseline customers
  • Glenn County: 207 customers, 10 Medical Baseline customers
  • Humboldt County: 681 customers, 16 Medical Baseline customers
  • Lake County: 2,083 customers, 136 Medical Baseline customers
  • Lassen County: 65 customers, 7 Medical Baseline customers
  • Mendocino County: 669 customers, 30 Medical Baseline customers
  • Napa County: 2,041 customers, 99 Medical Baseline customers
  • Nevada County: 133 customers, 3 Medical Baseline customers
  • Plumas County: 660 customers, 24 Medical Baseline customers
  • Shasta County: 19,999 customers, 1,713 Medical Baseline customers
  • Sierra County: 1,036 customers, 30 Medical Baseline customers
  • Solano County: 44 customers, 0 Medical Baseline customers
  • Sonoma County: 240 customers, 9 Medical Baseline customer
  • Tehama County: 7,473 customers, 671 Medical Baseline customers
  • Trinity County: 428 customers, 21 Medical Baseline customers
  • Yolo County: 11 customers, 0 Medical Baseline customers
  • Yuba County: 487 customers, 47 Medical Baseline customers

Why PG&E Calls a PSPS Event

The sole purpose of a PSPS is to reduce the risk of major wildfires during severe weather. While a PSPS is an important wildfire safety tool, PG&E understands that losing power disrupts lives.

We initiate a PSPS event when the weather forecast is for such severe weather that people’s safety, lives, homes and businesses may be in danger of wildfires.

As each weather situation is unique, we carefully review a combination of factors when deciding if power must be turned off. These factors include:

  • Low humidity levels, generally 30% and below.
  • A forecast of high winds, particularly sustained winds above 20 miles per hour and wind gusts above 30-40 miles per hour.
  • Condition of dry material on the ground and low moisture content of vegetation.
  • A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service.
  • Real-time ground observations from our Wildfire Safety Operations Center and from our crews working across the service territory.

This year, our decision-making process is evolving to also account for the presence of trees tall enough to strike power lines when determining if a PSPS event is necessary.

Every wildfire season is different, and the ongoing drought and the conditions will determine the number of times we will need to shut off power, without compromising safety.

This set of criteria is a first step which may lead to further analysis from our meteorology team to determine if a PSPS event is necessary.

Here’s Where to Learn More

  • PG&E’s emergency website (www.pge.com/pspsupdates) is now available in 16 languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Russian, Vietnamese, Korean, Farsi, Arabic, Hmong, Khmer, Punjabi, Japanese, Thai, Portuguese and Hindi. Customers will have the opportunity to choose their language of preference for viewing the information when visiting the website.
  • Customers are encouraged to update their contact information and indicate their preferred language for notifications by visiting www.pge.com/mywildfirealerts or by calling 1-800-742-5000, where in-language support is available.
  • Tenants and non-account holders can sign up to receive PSPS ZIP Code Alerts for any area where you do not have a PG&E account by visiting www.pge.com/pspszipcodealerts.
  • At PG&E’s Safety Action Center (www.safetyactioncenter.pge.com) customers can prepare for emergencies. By using the “Make Your Own Emergency Plan” tool and answering a few short questions, visitors to the website can compile and organize the important information needed for a personalized family emergency plan. This includes phone numbers, escape routes and a family meeting location if an evacuation is necessary.

PG&E’s Commitment to Wildfire Safety

PG&E’s multi-faceted Community Wildfire Safety Program includes both immediate and long-term action plans to further reduce wildfire risk and keep its customers and communities safe. Since 2018, PG&E’s wildfire safety work has resulted in:

  • Multiple inspections of distribution, transmission and substation equipment in high fire-threat areas
  • Hardening more than 600 miles with stronger lines and poles to better withstand severe weather
  • Conducting enhanced vegetation safety work on nearly 5,000 line miles in high fire-threat areas (this is in addition to the more than 5 million trees that PG&E has trimmed or removed as part of its routine vegetation management and tree mortality efforts)
  • Installing more than 1,000 sectionalizing devices and switches that limit the size of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) that are necessary to mitigate the risk of wildfires
  • Installing more than 1,150 advanced weather stations to help PG&E gather more data and information to better predict and respond to extreme weather threats
  • Installing more than 400 high-definition cameras to monitor and respond to wildfires
  • Reserving more than 65 helicopters to quickly restore power after severe weather during PSPS events
  • Monitoring wildfire threats in real-time through a dedicated team at PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Operations Center, which is staffed 24 hours a day during wildfire season

Ongoing PG&E Wildfire Mitigation and Resiliency Efforts

In addition to significantly expanding its undergrounding, PG&E’s ongoing safety work to enhance grid resilience and address the growing threat of severe weather and wildfires continues on a risk-based and data-driven basis, as outlined in PG&E’s 2021 Wildfire Mitigation Plan.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.

Translate »