UPDATED 4 p.m. — PG&E has confirmed that they will be turning off the lights and they have changed the schedule of the planned power shut-offs that will be starting today. The utility company is now saying that southern Mendocino, along with Marin, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma will lose power around 5 p.m. while northern Mendocino along with Humboldt, Lake, and Trinity will lose power around 8 p.m.
Of course this could all change and everyone should be prepared. PG&E will be holding a press conference at 5:30 p.m., which they have done nightly during the power shut-offs, which can be watched on their Twitter.
They have also put out this press release:Update-PSPS-Power-Shutoff-Notification-10.26.19
If you’re curious about exactly where the power lines actually are and how the grid is put together, we put together this cool map for you as part of our Mendo Maps project. It may take a minute to load, since there’s lots of info, but if you click on the double chevron (<<) in the top lefthand corner, you will see a key that will allow you to select different “layers,” and a key, from power equipment to gas pipelines, watersheds, faultiness, and more.
Mendocino County has also put together a general webpage for power shut-offs, as well a webpage for this specific power shut-off. Both are full of important resources, including which businesses may be open. The City of Ukiah also has a power shut-off webpage, and the Greater Ukiah Chamber of Commerce is updating a list of businesses that may be open and other useful info on Facebook. However, keep in mind that depending on the length of the outage, not all local businesses are equipped with back-up power or supplies to last over multiple days.
UPDATED 2: 15 p.m. — It now appears that the wind storm may be coming slightly later and that as a result power shut-offs might be occurring slightly behind schedule. This information is coming from Mendocino County District 5 Supervisor Ted Williams, who just got off a conference call with PG&E and CalOES as well as a plethora of other agencies. Williams notes that if the lights fail to go off at the expected time “don’t read into it,” it doesn’t mean that the power outage won’t happen, it’s just a delay.
On another note, there have been a variety of rumors that U.S. Route 101 has been closed — these are FALSE. Both CalTrans and Cal Fire have confirmed that they have NOT close the 101, and do NOT plan to close the 101 in the immediate future, certainly not before the wind event begins. It is possible that tonight, as the winds begin to blow, the Kincade Fire will quickly and dramatically grow and size and burn through or jump the 101. For this reason the evacuation warning area in Sonoma County has been extended to all areas west of Healdsburg and Windsor to the coast.
Here’s the statement from Williams:
Just off a Public Safety Power Shutoff briefing facilitated by CalOES in conjunction with CSAC and League of Cities between PG&E, SCE and SDG&E.Ted Williams Facebook post, 2 p.m. October 26, 2019.
The wind storm appears behind schedule. PG&E is considering schedule adjustment to the planned outage to match the wind arrival. If lights are still on after the advertised shut off time, don’t read into it, it’s just a delay. The storm will be approaching from the north, including West Sacramento and Humboldt. 940k customers are now included. 5800 critical facilities include 2400 are water agencies, 1300 schools, 340 police and fire, 280 hospitals. 34k baseline medical customers are within the 940k. The outage includes 31,000 miles of overhead infrastructure, 10% larger than event in early October. The estimated restore time is greater than prior events (final customers, sans those impacted by Sonoma fire, were restored just today). To keep the grid in a stable state, some customers outside of the wind impacted areas are included to balance electric load. California ISO has been involved in process, to mitigate cascading outages from grid instability. PG&E claims 96% success in reaching critical customers.
41 ambulance strike teams throughout the state are pre-positioned for facility evacuation. 50% are positioned in the north part of the state.
UPDATED 11 a.m. — PG&E has just announced an expansion of their planned power shut-offs across the state, raising the number of customers who are scheduled to lose power by 90,000, to a total of 940,000 customers in 36 counties across California, as of 11 a.m. on Saturday. Each customer represents an individual account — so in the case of Ukiah, 12,000 residents — and so this increase means that millions of Californians will lose power. In Mendocino County, that number will include a total of 38,433 customers, which is likely the total customers in the county, including 1,342 medical baseline customers, which is the same as the number given late Friday.
PG&E has also slightly adjusted the schedule for when the shut-offs are to being, saying now that southern Mendocino County will have the power cut at 4 p.m. and northern Mendo will lose power at 5 p.m. — though it’s not clear exactly where the line between northern and southern is according to PG&E, and all residents should be prepared for whatever happens.
An increase in the number of customers who lose power will likely result in a longer time for the power to be restored statewide, as PG&E will be visually inspecting and then repairing all equipment before restoration, and had already requested 1,000 workers from other companies to help with the shutoff restoration work. The utility company is planning to open at least 56 “customer resource centers” across the state, including one on State Street in Ukiah, and is adding more.
The full press release from PG&E this morning is listed below. Scroll down for more details about the planned shutoffs in Mendocino County, including local resources, can be found in the original article.
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Due to weather forecasts indicating potential for a historic wind event this weekend, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) confirmed it will implement a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) affecting approximately 940,000 customers—an increase of about 90,000 from previous estimates—in portions of 36 counties. Widespread dry, hot and windy weather is expected to begin impacting the service area today between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. and through midday Monday.
As this weather system sweeps from north to south over a period of two to three days, PG&E customers across Northern and Central California will feel the effects of hot, dry winds at different times, which means outage times will vary as well.
Customers are encouraged to visit www.pge.com/eventmaps and use the address look up tool to confirm if they will be impacted by this PSPS event.
Power Will Be Turned Off in Phases
The PSPS will occur in six phases, times may change (earlier or later) dependent on weather. The first phase will begin about 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 26. Customer impacts will include these counties: Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Joaquin, Sierra, Siskiyou, Shasta, Tehama and Yuba.
The second phase will occur around 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 26, impacting customers in the following counties: Lake, Marin, Mendocino (south), Napa, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo.
Phase three will begin about 5 p.m. Saturday, October 26, impacting customers in these counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Monterey, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Stanislaus.
Phase four will begin about 5 p.m. Saturday, October 26, impacting customers in these counties: Alpine, Calaveras, Mariposa and Tuolumne.
Phase five begin about 5 p.m. Saturday, October 26, impacting customers in these counties: Humboldt, Mendocino (north) and Trinity.
The sixth and final phase is scheduled to begin 10 a.m., Sunday
, October 27, impacting customers in Kern County.
The power will be turned off to communities in stages, depending on local timing of the severe wind conditions.
“This wind event is forecast to be the most serious weather situation that Northern and Central California has experienced in recent memory. We understand the widespread impacts this Public Safety Power Shutoff will have across Northern and Central California. We would only take this decision for one reason – to help reduce catastrophic wildfire risk to our customers and communities. There is no compromising the safety of our customers, which is our most important responsibility,” said Michael Lewis, PG&E’s senior vice president of Electric Operations.
Customer Notifications and Impact
In most cases, the company has notified potentially impacted customers at 48 hours, 24 hours and just before the de-energization. However, customers not impacted by the PSPS, including those not within high fire-risk areas, may experience power outages due to PG&E equipment damaged during this major wind event. Those customers will not be notified in advance.
It is very possible 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.
The impacted counties, cities and communities are listed below. Customers can go to pge.com/pspsupdates to look up individual addresses to see if they are impacted by this event.
Estimated Time of Restoration
Predictive data models indicate the weather event could be the most powerful to hit California in decades, with widespread dry northeast winds between 45-60 mph and peak gusts of 60-70 mph in the higher elevations.
Winds of this magnitude pose a higher risk of damage and sparks on the electric system and rapid wildfire spread. The fire risk is even higher because vegetation on the ground has been dried out by recent wind events.
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 of at least two days once the severe weather has passed.
PG&E will work with state and local agencies to provide updated restoration timelines following the conclusion of the severe weather event.
PG&E is opening 56 Community Resource Centers in areas where power will be shut off, and we are looking to add more. These centers will remain open in impacted areas throughout the PSPS to provide water, phone charging stations, air-conditioned seating for up to 100 people and restrooms. To view the current list, click here.
11 a.m. PG&E press release on October 26, 2019.
During the PSPS, customers in impacted areas will not be billed. PG&E has paused disconnection and collection activities in these areas.
Customers can visit pge.com/pspsupdates for more information.
How Customers Can Prepare
In addition, PG&E is asking customers to:
Update your contact information by calling 1-866-743-6589. PG&E will use this information to alert customers through automated calls, texts, and emails, when possible, before 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.
Learn more about wildfire risk and what to do before, during and after an emergency to keep your family safe at PG&E’s Safety Action Center.
While customers in high fire-threat areas are more likely to be affected by a Public Safety Power Shutoff event, any of PG&E’s more than five million electric customers could have their power shut off for safety because the energy system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity across cities, counties and regions.
10/26/19 — Today is the day when the big winds are expected to arrive and Pacific Gas & Electric is scheduled to shut off power to a huge swath of Northern California leaving millions of people in the dark including the vast majority of Mendocino County. The shut offs are expected to begin at 5 p.m. in southern Mendo and 7 p.m. in northern Mendo, though it’s not clear exactly where that dividing line is, and everyone should be prepared for the power to go out earlier or later.
Most important to anyone reading this is surely the question of whether or not your power will go out — well, if you are in Mendocino County and on the grid PG&E is now saying that they will almost certainly cut your power. As of last night PG&E was saying that they would be cutting power to 39,000 customers in Mendocino County, and as always bears remembering, a customer is a household or a business, or school, etc., in fact the City of Ukiah, which operates its own power grid but receives power from PG&E transmission lines is counted as one customer. This means that the 39,000 customers likely means every single customer in the county.
According to the County of Mendocino and Mendocino Sheriff the areas that will lose power are:
At this time the majority of Mendocino County will be affected. Impacted communities include, but are not limited to: Albion, Annapolis, Boonville, Branscomb, Calpella, Covelo, Cloverdale, Cummings, Dos Rios, Elk, Fort Bragg, Gualala, Harris, Hopland, Laytonville, Leggett, Littler River, Manchester, Philo, Piercy, Point Arena, Potter Valley, Redwood Valley, Rockport, Talmage, Ukiah, Westport, Willits and Yorkville.County of Mendocino
The power outages are scheduled to begin this evening, and could last for up to five days in some places. They are being performed in response to a forecasted wind event, which meteorologists are saying could bring historically strong and dry winds to Northern California beginning tonight creating dangerously critical fire weather conditions.
The critical conditions are expected to last through Sunday night into early Monday morning. At the point at which the winds have subsided PG&E will call the “all clear,” meaning it is safe to begin the process of re-energizing the power lines. However, it’s not just a light switch. PG&E workers will then have to inspect potentially 10s of thousands of miles of power line to make sure that they haven’t been downed, damaged, or aren’t contacting trees, and are safe to re-energize.
Once those inspections have been completed, in sections, PG&E will turn the lights back on. This process could take days, and so PG&E has warned people to be prepared for up to five days without power.
As most know, over the past few years PG&E’s equipment has been responsible for sparking some of the deadliest fires in California history, so the utility company has instituted the policy of preemptively shutting off the power to prevent such fires. Just this week in Sonoma County it appears that failing PG&E equipment sparked the Kincade Fire, though the official cause of the fire has not yet been announced, PG&E experience a problem on one of its high power transmission lines, and broken PG&E infrastructure was found at the source of the fire.
PG&E will have a “customer resource center” at 1775 North State Street beginning Sunday morning and it’ll be open between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. They’ll have some water, a generator, AC, and last time a porta-potty.
PG&E put out the following graphic last night, which does a decent job of showing the various sections and phases of the shut-off, however, it was published before certain updates were made and does not show all the outage areas in Mendocino:
Here’s some additional updates from this morning:
Hospitals: Adventist Health Howard Memorial and Adventist Health Ukiah Valley are expected to remain open with back-up power, but non-elective surgeries and other appointments will be cancelled in the event of an outage.
Ukiah: The City of Ukiah is expected to lose power, but water and sewage systems will remain operational. The City of Ukiah will be operating a 24/7 power shutdown hotline that you can call at 707-463-6288 — please do not call 911 for power shutdown related questions to allow the lines to remain open for emergencies. The Ukiah Unified School District is planning to close the schools in the event of a power shutoff.
The City of Ukiah also put out this press release:
October 26, 8:45 am – UPDATE REGARDING 10/26 PSPS EVENT IMPACTING THE CITY OF UKIAH
Residents in the City of Ukiah WILL be affected by the Public Safety Planned Power Shutoff (PSPS) event that is forecast to begin on Saturday, October 26. The de-energization of the system is expected to begin in the afternoon hours of October 26th. For City of Ukiah utility customers, even though the electricity will be off, water, sewer and garbage will continue to operate normally. Residents should prepare for an electric outage that may last up to five days.
PG&E will open a “customer resource center” at 1775 North State Street, beginning at 8:00 am on Sunday, October 27th. On the days affected by the power outage, the center will be open between 8am and 8pm. The center provides restrooms, bottled water, electronic device charging and air-conditioned seating.
This information differs from prior releases. The City of Ukiah has been tracking this PSPS event for many days and, based on information from Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), had a high level of confidence that Ukiah would not be impacted up until approximately 5:00 pm on Friday, October 25th. This PSPS event is the result of a combination of a dangerous weather event with high winds and heat and the damaging impacts of the Kincade Fire in the Geyserville area.
Inoperative traffic signals caused by the power outage need to be treated as a four-way stop. The City of Ukiah urges the community to drive slowly and carefully.
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.
City of Ukiah residents are encouraged to be prepared for and during a PSPS event in the following ways:
• Sign up for Nixle alerts (emergency notifications via text message and/or email) to receive updates about power outages and other emergency notifications: Nixle.com
• Visit CityofUkiah.com/PSPS to learn more
• Learn more about how to prepare for a Public Safety Power Shutoff at prepareforpowerdown.com
• Review the City of Ukiah’s Office of Emergency Management page: cityofukiah.com/office-of-emergency-management
• During a PSPS event, call the outage phone line at (707) 463-6288 for updates
Courts: The Mendocino County Superior Court in Ukiah is planning to close in the event of a power shutoff, meaning that scheduled court hearings, cases, and other activities at the courthouse on Monday and potentially Tuesday and longer.