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As Offshore Windstorm Sweeps Through State, PG&E Manages Related Outages Throughout Service Area and Prepares to Execute a Targeted Public Safety Power Shutoff Later Tonight in Small Portions of Driest Locations

01/18/2021

An estimated 5,465 customer accounts in Fresno, Kern, Madera, Mariposa, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Tulare counties set to be de-energized for the Public Safety Power Shutoff

Wind associated with offshore weather system may cause flying debris and vegetation, leading to downed lines and outages

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) continues to monitor a powerful, offshore weather event with the potential to cause wind hazards and related outages throughout the company’s service area. The company’s Emergency Operations Center has been open since Saturday to manage PG&E response to wind damage and a targeted Public Safety Power Shutoff in the driest portions of the service area.

Potential PSPS in Central California

In locations still enduring extremely dry winter conditions, PG&E will de-energize approximately 5,465 customer accounts in portions of Fresno, Kern, Madera, Mariposa, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Tulare counties for a PSPS early Tuesday morning to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. This represents less than one percent of PG&E’s 5.3 million customers.

No PSPS Events for Bay Area and Further North

Due to recent rains, relatively high humidity levels and the lack of any Red Flag Warnings in the Bay Area and other parts of PG&E’s service area, the company does not plan to initiate a PSPS in any Bay Area counties or further North during this weather event.

In addition, PG&E’s network of 340 weather cameras across the service area, as well as visual checks by crews in the field, helps the company determine where vegetation has greened up to levels that help make PSPS events unnecessary.

Strong Offshore Winds Can Cause Wires Down and Outages

However, while PG&E plans no PSPS events in Northern California, there could be wires down and outages due to flying debris and vegetation. The offshore weather event is forecast to cause damage-producing winds across much of California.

Handling Wind Damage Across PG&E’s Service Area

  • Never touch downed wires: If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and extremely dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it—and keep children and animals away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 911 and by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.

If your vehicle encounters a downed power line:

  • Stay inside! The safest place is in your car. The ground around your car may be energized.
  • Honk the horn, roll down your window and yell for help.
  • Warn others to stay away. Anyone who touches the equipment or ground around the vehicle may be injured.
  • Use your mobile phone to call 911.
  • Fire department, police and PG&E workers will tell you when it is safe to get out of the vehicle.

If you encounter other storm damage or experience a storm related outage:

  • If repairing storm damage: Call 811 before any repairs are made to storm damaged areas. Failing to do so puts safety at risk and can result in damage to infrastructure, cause injuries or lead to fines.
  • When power goes out: During a power outage, use battery-operated flashlights, and not candles, due to the risk of fire. If you must use candles, please keep them away from drapes, lampshades, holiday trees and small children. Do not leave candles unattended.
  • Before power is restored: If you experience an outage, unplug or turn off all electrical appliances to avoid overloading circuits and to prevent fire hazards when power is restored. Simply leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
  • Have a backup phone: If you have a telephone system that requires electricity to work, such as a cordless phone or answering machine, plan to have a standard telephone or cellular phone ready as a backup.
  • Have fresh drinking water, ice: Freeze plastic containers filled with water to make blocks of ice that can be placed in your refrigerator/freezer during an outage to prevent foods from spoiling. Blue Ice from your picnic cooler also works well in the freezer.
  • Secure outdoor furniture: Deck furniture, lightweight yard structures and decorative lawn items should be secured as they can be blown by high winds and damage overhead power lines or property.
  • Use generators safely: Customers with standby electric generators should make sure they are properly installed by a licensed electrician in a well-ventilated area. Improperly installed generators pose a significant danger to customers, as well as crews working on power lines. If using portable generators, be sure they are in a well-ventilated area.

Small, Targeted Public Safety Power Shutoff: What People Should Know

The PSPS event in small parts of seven counties is expected to begin early Tuesday morning.

Forecasts continue to show high-risk conditions arriving overnight in the southern portion of PG&E’s service area, with high winds expected to subside by Wednesday morning. Before any PSPS restoration begins in targeted areas where the company shut off power for public safety, PG&E will inspect de-energized lines to ensure they were not damaged by high winds. PG&E will restore power safely and as quickly as possible once the weather all-clear is given.

PG&E is carefully monitoring weather conditions, which can change quickly. We remind our customers to have an emergency plan and make sure to provide PG&E up-to-date contact information.

Customer notifications—via text, email and automated phone call—began Saturday afternoon, two days prior to the potential shutoff. When possible, PG&E employees knocked on the doors of customers enrolled in the company’s Medical Baseline program who did not verify that they received these important safety messages. Those visits focused on customers who rely on electricity for critical life-sustaining equipment.

Customers by county who could potentially be affected by this PSPS event

  • Fresno County: 1,823 customers, 107 Medical Baseline customers
  • Kern County: 23 customers, 0 Medical Baseline customers
  • Madera County: 288 customers, 20 Medical Baseline customers
  • Mariposa County: 2,236 customers, 136 Medical Baseline customers
  • San Luis Obispo County: 373 customers, 13 Medical Baseline customers
  • Santa Barbara County: 287 customers, 7 Medical Baseline customers
  • Tulare County: 435 customers, 8 Medical Baseline customers

Why PG&E Calls a PSPS Event

Due to forecasted extreme weather conditions, PG&E is considering proactively turning off power for safety. Windy conditions, like those being forecast, increase the potential for damage and hazards to the electric infrastructure, which could cause sparks if lines are energized. These conditions also increase the potential for rapid fire spread.

State officials classify more than half of PG&E’s 70,000-square-mile service area in Northern and Central California as having a high fire threat, given dry grasses and the high volume of dead and dying trees. The state’s high-risk areas have tripled in size in seven years.

No single factor drives a PSPS, as each situation is unique. PG&E carefully reviews a combination of many criteria when determining if power should be turned off for safety. These factors generally include, but are not limited to:

  • Low humidity levels, generally 20 percent and below
  • Forecasted sustained winds generally above 25 mph and wind gusts in excess of approximately 45 mph, depending on location and site-specific conditions such as temperature, terrain and local climate
  • A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service
  • Condition of dry fuel on the ground and live vegetation (moisture content)
  • On-the-ground, real-time observations from PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Operations Center and observations from PG&E field crews

Here’s Where to Go to Learn More

  • PG&E’s emergency website (www.pge.com/pspsupdates) is now available in 13 languages. Currently, the website is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Russian, Vietnamese, Korean, Farsi, Arabic, Hmong, Khmer, Punjabi and Japanese. 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 1-800-743-5000, 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.
  • PG&E has launched a new tool at its online Safety Action Center (www.safetyactioncenter.pge.com) to help customers prepare. 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.

Community Resource Centers Reflect COVID-Safety Protocols

To support our customers during this PSPS, PG&E will open Community Resource Centers (CRC) tomorrow from 8:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Auberry Library on 33049 Auberry Road, Auberry
  • Bear Mountain Library on 30733 E Kings Canyon Road, Dunlap
  • North Folk Elementary School on 33087 Road 228, North Folk
  • Yosemite High School on 50200 High School Road, Oakhurst
  • New Life Christian Fellowship on 5089 Cole Road, Mariposa
  • Grover Beach Community Center on 1230 Trouville Avenue, Grover Beach
  • First Christian Church on 15550 S College Drive, Santa Maria

The temporary CRCs will provide ADA-accessible restrooms, hand-washing stations, medical-equipment charging, WiFi; bottled water, grab-and-go bags and non-perishable snacks.

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, especially for customers sheltering-at-home in response to COVID-19. These temporary CRCs will be open to customers when power is out at their homes and will provide ADA-accessible restrooms and hand-washing stations; medical-equipment charging; Wi-Fi; bottled water; and non-perishable snacks.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all CRCs will follow important health and safety protocols including:

  • Facial coverings and maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet from those who are not part of the same household will be required at all CRCs.
  • Temperature checks will be administered before entering CRCs that are located indoors.
  • CRC staff will be trained in COVID-19 precautions and will regularly sanitize surfaces and use Plexiglass barriers at check-in.
  • All CRCs will follow county and state requirements regarding COVID-19, including limits on the number of customers permitted indoors at any time.

About PG&E

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.

Media Relations
415.973.5930

Source: PG&E Corporation

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