Potential PSPS Event in Kern and Santa Barbara Counties

Please note that PG&E Meteorology is closely monitoring the forecast for a localized period of gusty winds across the southern part of our service territory in portions of Santa Barbara and Kern Counties beginning late Thursday through Sunday afternoon. A potential, localized Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) is planned from Friday, 12/15 to Sunday, 12/17. This event is expected to impact 919 customers in Santa Barbara and Kern Counties. Wind gusts of up to 80 mph could accompany this event. Rain is expected to move into the impacted area on Sunday, 12/17, which will reduce the likelihood of wildfire ignition. Although fire danger is extremely low, extreme vigilance is required due to the affected counties having received very little rain this year.

We started notifying impacted customers yesterday. We know losing power can be disruptive. This tool helps customers plan ahead and stay informed. To learn more, visit www.pge.com/pspsupdates. It is available in 15 languages.

For the latest, you can check out our blog post: PSPS Updates: Week of December 13, 2023 – PGE Currents

High Winds, Dry Conditions Mean PG&E May Need to Proactively Turn Off Power for Safety Friday Morning in Portions of  Two Counties

PG&E Has Sent Day-Ahead Notifications to About 1,000 Customers Who Might Experience a Public Safety Power Shutoff

PG&E is monitoring a potential dry offshore wind event forecasted to start early Friday, Dec. 15, 2023. Given this wind event and current dry conditions, including extremely dried vegetation in areas with little rainfall, PG&E sent one-day advance notifications Wednesday to customers in targeted areas in Kern and Santa Barbara counties where PG&E may need to proactively turn power off for safety to reduce the risk of wildfire from energized powerlines. 

The potential Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event, starting Friday morning and forecasted to last through Sunday morning, could affect approximately fewer than 1,000 customers in small portions of two counties. A widespread PSPS event is not expected at this time. 

According to PG&E meteorologists, the primary period of concern develops Thursday evening, when relative humidity values may fall into the teens and wind gusts exceeding 50 mph may develop over the elevated terrain in portions of Santa Barbara and Kern Counties. The combination of winds and dry relative humidity in these areas where little rain has fallen (the last two months) will increase the fire potential.  

At the time of this news release’s distribution, the planned outage is approximately 12 hours away and conditions may change.  

Customer notifications—via text, email, and automated phone calls—began Wednesday approximately two days prior to the potential shutoff. PG&E employees will conduct individual in-person visits, when possible, to customers enrolled in the company’s Medical Baseline Program who do not verify 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 online to find out if their location is being monitored for the potential safety shutoff at pge.com/pspsupdates

The potential shutoff is currently expected to affect approximately 1,000 customers across the following counties: 

  • Kern County:  816 customers; 43 Medical Baseline customers 
  • Santa Barbara County:  103 customers; 1 Medical Baseline customer 

Community Resource Centers 
One Community Resource Center will be available within Kern County at the Lebec Post Office located in Lebec (2132 Lebec). PG&E will provide resources in these safe locations during this PSPS. The center will offer ADA-accessible restrooms, device charging, Wi-Fi, blankets, heating and bottled water, snacks, and other supplies.  

California Network of 211 
Customers can call 211 to get help preparing for a potential power outage, or any other kind of emergency, to minimize hardships that may be caused by wildfire safety outages, like a PSPS. Support is available before, during, and after a power outage. PG&E’s 211 partnership also provides proactive, emergency preparedness outreach for those who rely on power for medical needs, have a disability, are in the aging population, or have other needs.  
Call 211, text ‘PSPS’ to 211, or visit 211.org to find their local 211. 

Why PG&E Calls a PSPS Event 
We initiate PSPS 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 19 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 was declared by the National Weather Service  
  • Real-time ground observations from our Hazard Awareness and Warning Center and from our crews working across the service territory. 

Our decision-making process also accounts for the presence of trees tall enough to strike powerlines. 

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

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