UPDATE 10/25/19 — Here’s the most recent maps and info about the potential shutdown this weekend. PG&E has said all power has been restored to Mendocino County, but we’ve heard from some readers they have not yet had their power restored. Here’s the latest.
UPDATE 11 p.m. — State Senator Mike McGuire, who represents most of the North Coast, posted the following, providing his information on the likely number of people who will lose power this weekend. Here’s what he said:
PG&E anticipates another large planned power outage – due to a significant wind event – impacting the following counties & customers starting Saturday evening:Mike McGuire
More detailed info to come on Friday.
MENDOCINO Co., 10/24/19 — Pacific Gas & Electric has sounded the “all clear” regarding the risky fire weather that resulted in the utility cutting power in portions of Mendocino County and 16 other counties this week, which means the utility has begun to inspect their power lines and equipment as a precursor to restoring power. Though, customers in Mendocino County, specifically Redwood Valley, have already begun to receive notice that they may once again lose power before this weekend’s wind event.
However, forecasts indicate that there is far greater risk of fire weather across a larger portion of California impending this weekend, which PG&E is saying will, “likely be the strongest event of the year from a wind perspective,” and the utility company has placed Mendocino County on an “elevated” risk of power shutdowns beginning on Saturday, with eight out of nine PG&E weather zones across the state being designated at an elevated risk of power shutdowns for Sunday and Monday. Governor Gavin Newsom today issued a statement today calling for the company to uphold it’s commitments regarding power shutdowns, which it has not maintained during these recent shutdowns (see below).
Prior to the most recent shutdown, PG&E stated they expected to begin restoring power this afternoon after the risk of fire weather and high winds subsided, and they are currently anticipating power to be restored by Friday evening unless damaged equipment is found.
In Mendocino County, 317 customers had their power shutdown this week, including 10 “medical baseline” customers that require electricity for medical devices. However, the company has not provided significant advanced notice regarding which regions and how many customers will experience shutdowns, including here in Mendocino — an issue which Governor Newsom addressed in a statement condemning the company’s performance during the last several shutdowns today.
Newsom also reiterated his request that the company provide compensation for shutdowns of $100 to residential customers and $250 to business customers. There is also the potential for another substantial shutdown, which could be larger the massive shutdown on October 9, to occur this weekend as risky fire weather and high winds resume across much of the state.
Supervisor Ted Williams of Mendocino County’s District 5, lamented PG&E’s policy, saying, “…the bottom line is we expected a discussion about weather shareholders or ratepayers would absorb the risk, and it seems PG&E found a third option, the counties. Our county can’t afford this problem, not in migration or the staffing time it’s sucking.”
PG&E is issuing a seven day forecasts concerning the possibility of shutdowns this weekend, possibly beginning on Saturday in Mendocino County, and in eight of the nine zones the company has delineated across the state. Fifth District Supervisor Ted Williams stated that PG&E is currently estimating 8,343 customers in a Facebook post, although he did not clarify where this number came from, adding “the plans change with the winds.”
The utility company has not yet provided public estimates of the number of customers facing shutdowns on its website, although they are periodically communicating with local officials. In his statement today, Newsom noted that PG&E had committed to providing 72 hours notice to local governments to ensure there was adequate time to prepare public safety measures for shutdown events, which has not occurred in the last two events. Newsom’s statement reads in part:
“Inconsistent application by all three of California’s Independently Owned Utilities (IOUs) of previously agreed protocols for PSPS actions, have undermined efforts to coordinate with first responders to protect public safety during these events,” wrote Governor Newsom in a letter to Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas and Electric, and Edison executives today. “Going forward, it is critical that your utilities adhere to the agreements and protocols to provide transparent and consistent notification to state and local government officials, to provide adequately resourced Community Resource Centers, and to plan for and meet the needs of your vulnerable customers.”
Here’s the most recent predictions from the PG&E power shutdown forecast page, and you can check updates on the company’s weather webpage here. PG&E held a press conference this evening, as they have every night during the planned power shutdowns, which you can watch here:
Here’s a link to Newsom’s full statement, and here’s some additional information from Mendocino County about the power restoration:
Important Information From PG&E About Restoration
Before restoring power, PG&E must inspect its equipment for damage and make any necessary repairs. That process cannot begin until the severe weather event has subsided. Given the prolonged period during which the wind event will unfold, and the large number of power line miles that will need to be inspected before restoration, customers are being asked to prepare for an extended outage.
PG&E will work with state and local agencies to provide updated restoration timelines following the conclusion of the severe weather event.
Inspection and Restoration
It’s important for all customers to have an emergency plan to be prepared for any extended outages due to extreme weather or natural disasters.
Each situation will be somewhat different, just like each day’s weather.
After the extreme weather has passed and it is safe to do so, our crews will work to visually inspect each mile of our power lines to ensure they are free from damage and safe to energize.
Inspections will take place during daylight hours and, in most cases, we would expect to be able to restore power within 24 to 48 hours after extreme weather has passed.
However, depending on weather conditions or if any repairs are needed, outages (weather event plus restoration time) could last longer than 48 hours.
For planning purposes, we suggest customers prepare for multiple-day outages.
Steps to restoration include:Weather All Clear – After the extreme weather has passed and it’s safe to do so, our crews can go into the field to begin patrols and inspections.
Patrol and InspectOur crews will work to visually inspect our power lines to look for potential weather-related damage to the lines, poles and towers. This is done by vehicle, foot and air.
Visual inspections are necessary since circuit breakers, reclosing devices and fuses that are typically used to help detect any potential damage from a weather event like a winter storm are also de-energized during a Public Safety Power Shutoff for safety reasons.
There are many challenges we face during inspections:Some locations require workers to travel on narrow access roads. In locations with no vehicle access, crews might need to hike in remote and mountainous areas to inspect equipment.
At night, we can’t fly helicopters for visual inspections.
Isolate and Repair Damaged Equipment
Where equipment damage is found, crews will work to isolate the damaged area from the rest of the system so other parts of the system can be restored.
Where equipment damage is found, crews work safely and as quickly as possible to make repairs.
Once the poles, towers and lines are deemed safe to energize, a call is made to the PG&E Control Center to complete the energization process.
Power is then restored to customers.
Customers are notified that power has been restored.