UPDATE 10/8/19 — Here is our latest:
WILLITS, 10/7/19 — In their latest press release Pacific Gas & Electric is warning that an even larger area of Mendocino County might be affected than they had previously announced.
This does not mean that they are definitively turning off power to these new areas. In this release they do not provide a specific time or date for when the outages will occur, whereas we have previously been informed that an outage is very likely to being in the Ukiah area, and neighboring valleys, or Wednesday at 12 a.m.
So, while it is not certain that we will lose power in the northern and coastal areas of the county, it is always best to be prepared. People on dialysis, with oxygen, or other like medical needs should prepare, and rural residents with electric pumps on their wells may need to make contigencies.
In the latest release they say that 6,000 customers will lose power, as they have previously stated. However, the list they give this time, of areas affected, is as follows: Ukiah, Potter Valley, Hopland, Redwood Valley, Willits, Boonville, Calpella, Talmage, Fort Bragg.
The public map that PG&E has online (which can be seen here) does not currently reflect what’s in the press release. We have asked for clarification and were told by a PG&E spokesperson that the towns listed are towns where at least some people have been notified that they will be losing power.
The truth is that this process is not transparent, PG&E is a privately owned company and the electrical infrastructure in most places, including the high powered transmission lines, are privately owned. What this means is that the decision ultimately rests with PG&E and they will be making the call based on the weather and on private information about their infrastructure — no one knows for sure what’s going to happen, perhaps not even within PG&E.
It should be noted that for PG&E’s purposes Ukiah, and everyone in it, constitute one customer, meaning that over 20,000 people in the county may be affected.
(If you’re curious where the main power transmission lines are, check out our solutions journalism project, The Mendocino Maps for a bunch of cool maps of mendo)
In this press release PG&E details some of the procedures they will follow concerning when to restart the power. They will not begin procedures to restart the power until the fire critical weather has passed, which might be Thursday.
The procedures require them to inspect every last yard of power line, to ensure it hasn’t been damaged, fallen, or had tree branches fall on it. In many cases this inspection will be done by people walking the lines, in some other places it might be done from the air. It is only after that has occurred that power will be restored in that area, and given the remote natures of various communities, and the thousands of miles of line to inspect in California, it may be several days until all areas have power restored.
Here is the press release. We will continue to update you with the latest info as we get it in, keep checking back with The Mendocino Voice.
PG&E Continues to Monitor a Significant Wednesday/Thursday Wind Event
Public Safety Power Shutoff Could Impact More Than 600,000 Customers Across Northern and Central California
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Based on current forecasted weather conditions, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) anticipates that it may begin implementing a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) to more than 600,000 customers across portions of nearly 30 northern, central, coastal and Bay Area counties. This would be a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of wildfire in these communities.
If PG&E decides to implement a PSPS, the company expects to begin turning off power for safety early Wednesday morning. Based on the latest weather forecasts and models, PG&E anticipates the period of peak winds will occur from early Wednesday morning and last through Thursday midday.
“This is shaping up to be one of the most severe dry wind events we’ve seen in our territory in recent years and we want our customers to be prepared for an extended outage that may last several days. Our meteorological and operations teams continue to actively monitor the weather and this evolving situation, and we are working directly with state and local agencies to help prepare our customers and the public for this safety event,” said Michael Lewis, Senior Vice President, PG&E Electric Operations. “We want our customers to be aware that, based on this number, it could take several days to fully restore power after the weather passes and safety inspections are completed.”
Customers may be affected by a power shutoff even though they are not experiencing extreme weather conditions in their specific location. This is because the electric system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity across cities, counties and regions.
Customer impacts may include:
Oakland, Castro Valley, Fremont, Union City, Berkeley, Hayward, San Leandro, Sunol, Pleasanton, Livermore
Pioneer, Jackson, Sutter Creek, Pine Grove, Plymouth, Volcano, Fiddletown, River Pines, Amador City, Drytown, Martell, Ione
Oroville, Chico, Magalia, Paradise, Berry Creek, Forest Ranch, Palermo, Bangor, Cohasset, Butte Meadows, Clipper Mills, Forbestown, Stirling City, Feather Falls, Biggs, Brush Creek, Yankee Hill, Gridley, Rackerby, Butte Valley, Hurleton, Paradise Pines
Arnold, Angels Camp, Copperopolis, Murphys, San Andreas, West Point, Mountain Ranch, Mokelumne Hill,
Rail Road Flat, Vallecito, Wilseyville, Hathaway Pines, Avery, Glencoe, Douglas Flat, Sheep Ranch, White Pines, Dorrington, Camp Connell, Tamarack, Altaville, Valley Springs
Arbuckle, Stonyford, Williams, Sites, Maxwell
San Ramon, Orinda, Lafayette, Moraga, Pinole, Richmond, Kensington, Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill,
El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Berkeley, Canyon, San Pablo,
Pittsburg, Rodeo, Concord, Albany, Antioch, Martinez
Placerville, El Dorado Hills, Pollock Pines, Cameron Park, Camino, Rescue, El Dorado, Somerset, Cool, Shingle Springs, Georgetown, Garden Valley, Diamond Springs, Pilot Hill, Grizzly Flats, Twin Bridges, Greenwood, Kyburz, Lotus, Kelsey, Mount Aukum, Coloma, Pacific House, Fair Play, Omo Ranch, Silver Fork, Canyon, Aukum
Orland, Willows, Artois, Elk Creek, Glenn
Clearlake, Lakeport, Clearlake Oaks, Lucerne, Nice, Upper Lake, Lower Lake, Middletown, Kelseyville, Cobb, Hidden Valley Lake, Glenhaven, Witter Springs, Clearlake Park, Loch Lomond
Coulterville, La Grange, Greeley Hill, Mariposa
Ukiah, Potter Valley, Hopland, Redwood Valley, Willits, Boonville, Calpella, Talmage, Fort Bragg
Napa, Saint Helena, Calistoga, Angwin, Pope Valley, Rutherford, Oakville, Deer Park, Lake Berryessa, Yountville, American Canyon
Grass Valley, Nevada City, Penn Valley, Rough and Ready, Soda Springs, North San Juan, Washington, Norden, Chicago Park, Cedar Ridge, Truckee, Kingvale
Auburn, Lincoln, Loomis, Colfax, Newcastle, Foresthill, Granite Bay, Meadow Vista, Penryn, Rocklin, Applegate, Alta, Dutch Flat, Emigrant Gap, Weimar, Gold Run, Baxter, Roseville, Sheridan, Christian Valley
La Porte, Quincy, Belden, Storrie, Twain, Bucks Lake, Tobin
Half Moon Bay, El Granada, Woodside, Moss Beach, Montara, Portola Valley, Pescadero, La Honda, Redwood City, San Gregorio, Loma Mar, San Mateo, Menlo Park, Emerald Hills, Pacifica, Princeton
San Jose, Morgan Hill, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Redwood Estates, Milpitas, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Coyote, Gilroy, Mount Hamilton, Palo Alto, Holy City
Aptos, Boulder Creek, Watsonville, Scotts Valley, Soquel, Ben Lomond, Felton, Santa Cruz, Los Gatos, Mount Hermon, Brookdale, Davenport, Capitola, Freedom, La Selva Beach, Corralitos, Saratoga, Bonny Doon
Vernalis, Tracy, Stockton, Farmington
Redding, Anderson, Shingletown, Palo Cedro, Cottonwood, Lakehead, Millville, Bella Vista, Oak Run, Whitmore, Igo, Round Mountain, Montgomery Creek, Big Bend, Shasta Lake, Ono, Shasta, Burney
Sierra City, Downieville, Alleghany, Goodyears Bar, Pike City
Fairfield, Vacaville, Suisun City, Vallejo, Dixon
Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Petaluma, Healdsburg, Cloverdale, Glen Ellen, Penngrove, Geyserville, Kenwood, Rohnert Park, Windsor, Annapolis, Stewarts Point, Cotati, Cazadero, Guerneville, Larkfield, El Verano, Boyes Hot Springs, Fulton, Bodega Bay
Westley, Grayson, Patterson, Oakdale, Knights Ferry, La Grange, Modesto, Riverbank
Red Bluff, Los Molinos, Gerber, Corning, Mineral, Paynes Creek, Manton, Vina, Tehama, Mill Creek, Paskenta, Proberta, Flournoy
Sonora, Groveland, Twain Harte, Jamestown, Tuolumne
Mi Wuk Village, Pinecrest, Columbia, Soulsbyville, Long Barn, Strawberry, Chinese Camp, Cold Springs, Moccasin, Big Oak Flat, Sierra Village
Winters, Esparto, Guinda, Capay, Brooks, Madison, Rumsey, Woodland, Davis, Dunnigan, Zamora
Marysville, Browns Valley, Oregon House, Brownsville, Wheatland, Dobbins, Camptonville, Smartville, Challenge, Rackerby, Strawberry Valley, Loma Rica
To support customers who would be impacted by Wednesday’s potential PSPS event, PG&E is planning to open Community Resource Centers across the affected areas.
The Resource Centers will be open during daylight hours only and will provide restrooms, bottled water, electronic-device charging and air-conditioning.
Customers are encouraged to visit pge.com/pspsupdates for the most up-to-date Public Safety Power Shutoff information, including addresses for the Community Resource Centers as they open and a link to an address look-up tool where customers can search their address for potential impacts.
Inspection and Restoration Process
PG&E cannot begin restoring power until the weather conditions subside.
Steps to restoration after a PSPS event include:
o Weather All Clear
▪ After the dry and windy weather has passed and it’s safe to do so, our crews can go into the field to begin patrols and inspections.
o Patrol and Inspect
▪ Our 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. And, at night, the company can’t fly helicopters for visual inspections.
o 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.
o Begin restoring power to customers within the PSPS event.
How customers can prepare
As part of PSPS preparedness efforts, PG&E is asking customers to:
• Update their contact information at pge.com/mywildfirealerts or by calling 1-866-743-6589 during normal business hours. PG&E will use this information to alert customers through automated calls, texts, and emails, when possible, prior to, and during, a Public Safety Power Shutoff.
• Plan for medical needs like medications that require refrigeration or devices that need power.
• Identify backup charging methods for phones and keep hard copies of emergency numbers.
• Build or restock your emergency kit with flashlights, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash.
• Keep in mind family members who are elderly, younger children and pets. Information and tips including a safety plan checklist are available at pge.com/wildfiresafety.