MENDOCINO Co., 11/20/19 -- Pacific Gas & Electric has once again reduced the scope of their planned outage, now saying that only 173 customers in Mendocino County will have their power cut, according to the County of Mendocino. As you can read in our previous coverage, their initial estimates were much larger. Significantly more people in Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties will be affected, and you can scroll down to see more detailed maps. The blackout is scheduled to begin early this morning. The wind event should continue about 24 hours, with the all clear sounding Thursday morning, and re-energization of the lines happening by later that day.
Part of the reason for the scale back is a shift weather forecasts, but we also have to be frank that no one outside of the executive offices of PG&E actually knows how these decisions are getting made, and as such we fundamentally can't tell you why the number started out at over 3,000 customers and is now only 173. Indeed, it appears that only three men are ultimately making the call. So while in theory this is good news, it was always just a prediction, from a company that has a long track record of secrecy and poor communication.
We generally avoid editorializing on this website, but in an effort to fully describe the truth as one sees it, this reporter has to acknowledge some frustration at the way that these projections on the part of PG&E have unfolded. At The Mendocino Voice we have no desire to play into the media "hype" surrounding these events. We want to deliver clear information that you can use -- fact-checked and verified news that you can depend on, not just scare or stress people out.
But just like the County of Mendocino, and everyone else, we're depending on PG&E to tell us what they're going to do, and they're not being transparent. So while this scaling back may be a relief in some ways, it also serves to highlight just how poorly PG&E is communicating with people, and how frustrating it is to live in this "new normal" where we're always guessing about when the power will go off.
Here is the comment from the County of Mendocino that was posted to Facebook:
Mendocino County PSPS Evening Update:County of Mendocino
•Due to lighter forecast winds and higher relative humidity the scope has been downsized this afternoon for Mendocino County.
•Total Customers 173, 0 critical facilities, 9 medical baseline.
•PSPS area is now only the area along Hwy 175 east of Old Hopland and another circuit in the Pine Mountain area near the Sonoma County line. See map below.
•De-energization is forecast to begin at 0700 on Wednesday 11/20.
•All clear from outage producing winds is forecast for Thursday 11/21 at 0800. Re-energization will begin following the all clear.
Here's the last press release from PG&E
PG&E Moving Forward with Shutting Off Power for Safety, Impacting About 150,000 Customers in Portions of 18 Counties
Scope of Event Reduced by 50 Percent Due to Evolving Weather, PG&E Actions
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will move forward with a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) beginning Wednesday morning in portions of the Sierra Foothills, the North Bay and the North Valley.
The decision was based on weather forecasts indicating the potential for high winds and dry conditions leading to increased fire risk.
Customer Impact Reduced by 50 Percent
As of 9:00 pm, the safety shutoffs are expected to include approximately 150,000 customers in 18 counties: Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Yolo and Yuba. They are anticipated to begin as early as 6:00 a.m. Wednesday for many customers; customers in other locations may not be impacted until around 4:00 p.m. Wednesday. The expectation is that the weather will clear around mid-morning Thursday, allowing the patrol and restoration process to begin.
For a list of customer counts and cities per county, see pge.com/pspsupdates.
Customers No Longer in Scope
Customers in six other counties, originally notified that they would be part of the PSPS, were notified that they will not lose power as weather conditions have improved. Those counties no longer impacted are: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Mateo. These customers are being contacted by PG&E via text, email or automated phone call to confirm that they will not be impacted by the PSPS.
There is still considerable uncertainty regarding the strength, timing and humidity levels associated with this weather system.
Forecasts indicate the period of peak winds should end mid-morning on Thursday, Nov. 21. Once the high winds subside, PG&E will inspect the de-energized lines to ensure they were not damaged during the wind event, and then restore power.
PG&E will safely restore power in stages as quickly as possible, with the goal of restoring the most customers by end of day Thursday, based on the current weather conditions.
On PG&E’s website, the PSPS maps provide a visual representation of potentially impacted areas. The best way for customers to confirm if they will or won’t be affected by a PSPS is to use the online address lookup tool at www.pge.com/pspsupdates.
Customer Notifications and Impact
The company began notifying potentially impacted customers on Monday (48 hours prior) and notified them again today, 24 hours prior, and is sending out notices again this evening to alert customers. Customers who have provided their contact information to PG&E were notified by phone, text and email.
It's important to remember that customers not impacted by the PSPS may experience other power outages due to PG&E equipment damaged during this wind event; those customers will not be notified in advance.
It is also possible that 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. Watch a video about why this happens here.
Community Resource Centers
To support customers in the affected areas, PG&E will open several Community Resource Centers (CRCs).
The Community Resource Centers will open Wednesday at 8:00 a.m. and remain open until 8:00 pm. The locations of CRCs will be available at www.pge.com/pspsupdates.
The following services will be provided at our Community Resource Centers: snacks (non-perishable), ice, blankets (upon request), heating and cooling, restroom facilities and charging stations for electronic devices.PG&E