UPDATE 10 p.m. — Here’s our most recent update on the power shut-offs from Wednesday evening.
UPDATE 4:30 p.m. — The lights just came on in Willits.
UPDATE 1:28 p.m. — Multiple reader reports have come in telling us that the power has been returned to large parts of Ukiah, potentially all of the area. These reports have come from both city-limits Ukiah, which has its own grid, and suburbs of Ukiah on the PG&E grid.
Leggett and Piercy, which are tied into the grid through Humboldt, apparently regained power yesterday at some point.
WILLITS, 10/30/19 — Pacific Gas & Electric sounded the “all clear” this morning, meaning repair and restoration work can re-commence on the power grid, without fear that more high winds will once again damage infrastructure or start a fire. (Scroll down or click here for what we know about when the power might come back on.)
Earlier this week Governor Gavin Newsom also announced that PG&E will be providing some kind of rebate for the outages, something that had no previously been their policy, though the scope of the rebate is unclear. With regard to some credit, PG&E has so far only commented on the Oct. 9 outage. PG&E has an outage map website, but the dates and times it shows appear to directly contradict the statements of PG&E to public officials and to the press, and may be considered unreliable.
The work that PG&E must do now is a mixture of both power restoration, the complex process by which the grid must be re-energized after being turned off to ensure stable voltage etc., and repairs which are necessary due to the fact that high winds have damaged and downed various lines.
The exact sequence in which work will proceed or power will come back on is effectively unknown to the public. Several public officials, including the county CEO and supervisors, as well as the City of Ukiah, have complained about the poor communication. The City of Ukiah has said repeated that, “Information from PG&E has been inconsistent and unreliable.” That’s the public official version of, “take this all with a grain of salt.”
Here’s what we know this morning, which we’ve complied from speaking to various public officials who in turn have had direct communication with PG&E officials: workers attempted to restore power to Gualala and the south coast last night, via a line that comes up from the Sonoma coast, but they did not succeed. They expect to have more success early today.
The City of Ukiah has said that PG&E has told them that they are making attempts to restore the high-power transmission line that follows roughly the path of SR-20 from Lake County, that provides power to Ukiah and surrounding areas. Restoration of this line is expected this afternoon, at which point Ukiah, within city limits, and areas around it should begin to see the power come back on.
Likewise, transmission lines that run along SR-128 from roughly the areas of U.S. Route 101, up from northern Sonoma to the Anderson Valley are expected to see restoration later today.
During the most recent forced outage PG&E turned off fewer areas of Humboldt County and for a shorter duration. It appears that Leggett and perhaps Laytonville get their power from the north, and so restoration of their power may also occur speedily.
But again, PG&E will not communicate about the actual functioning of their grid, and have rejected requests for information about the grid in the past. If you want to see a rough map of what the local grid looks like follow this link to our special project, the mendomaps.com.
Fort Bragg, unfortunately, appears to be powered, not through the south coast, nor through the Anderson Valley, but from Willits on transmission lines roughly parallel to SR-20. This means Fort Bragg depends on the restoration of the Willits substation, and we have no yet hear any information about when Willits will be returned to power.
At PG&E’s outage map, on their website, they currently show the places without power (purple areas are part of their intentional power shut-offs, which they call “PSPS”), and if you click there is an estimated time of restoration — but this information should, as per the City of Ukiah, be considered “inconsistent and unreliable.” This website especially only provides and estimate, and it appears that that estimate is just a time 48 hours after the initiation of the outage. What’s more, PG&E’s own official communications both to public officials and the press have often directly contradicted this website.
Here is the press release from the City of Ukiah:
CITY OF UKIAH PSPS UPDATE: PG&E GIVES THE “WEATHER ALL CLEAR,” HOPES TO RESTORE THE POWER TO THE GREATER UKIAH VALLEY IN THE AFTERNOON OF WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 30TH
Ukiah, CA. October 30, 2019, 8:30 am – PG&E has announced the “weather all clear” for Mendocino County. While their typical response is that it could take up to 48 to inspect the lines and restore power, they have also indicated that they are prioritizing restoration of the transmission line feeding the greater Ukiah area in hopes that power will be restored in the afternoon of Wednesday, October 30th.
While City Staff is cautiously optimistic, information from PG&E has been inconsistent and unreliable. We will continue to pass on information as it is received, and assure residents that staff are working around the clock to keep other essential services operating while pressuring PG&E for information and expedited restoration.
The Ukiah Civic Center lobby at 300 Seminary Avenue will be open to the public for device charging between 8:00 am and 9:00 pm until power is restored. Public restrooms, coffee and water are also available. Please note that public wifi is not available at this location due to the outage.
In the meantime, City officials encourage residents to please drive safely. Inoperative traffic signals caused by the power outage need to be treated as an all-way stop.
Please follow the City of Ukiah’s Facebook page for the most up-to-date info: https://www.facebook.com/cityofukiah/. Alternatively, residents may call (707) 463-6288.