Update 8/17/21 — NWS has issued a red flag warning for portions of Mendocino County and PG&E has increased the number of customers facing power shut-offs — read our latest here.
Update 8/16/21 7:30 p.m. — PG&E has issued a revised statement this evening, increasing the number of customers in Mendocino County that may face a planned power shut-off to 699, and across Northern California to 48,000 customers. According to the press release from the utility, customers who have signed up for notifications will be receiving notices from the company now that the power shut-off may begin within 24 hours. That includes 669 customers (which could be businesses or households) and 30 medical baseline customers.
The press release states:
“The potential PSPS event is still about 24 hours away. PG&E’s in-house meteorologists, its Wildfire Safety Operations Center and its Emergency Operations Center continue to monitor conditions closely. We will share additional customer notifications as conditions evolve.
Customer notifications via text, email and automated phone call began Sunday night, two days prior to the potential shutoff. PG&E employees will pay individual, in-person visits when possible to customers enrolled in the company’s Medical Baseline program who do not verify that they have received these important safety communications, with a primary focus on customers who rely on electricity for critical life-sustaining equipment.”
PG&E will be establishing a charging center at Harwood Hall at 44400 Willis Ave. in Laytonville, as well as a number of locations in Lake and Sonoma counties. The Laytonville location will be open from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. on August 17 and 18 and have “Blankets, snacks and water, Air-conditioning/heating, Device charging, Ice, ADA-accessible restroom and washing station, Seating, Small medical device charging, Wi-Fi,” according to the community charging center list provided by PG&E.
In past power shut-off events, it has taken at least 24 hours after the fire weather conditions have ended for PG&E inspectors to inspect and re-energize the lines, so residents who are in the potential shut-off areas should prepare for multiple days of outages.
You can check the PG&E forecast here, and check for information about your address here as it becomes available. You can also check the specific weather forecast from NWS at your location at this link. More information about the planned power shut-off program and this particular event is in the original article and updates below. We’ll continue to update as more information becomes available.
Update 8/16/21 10 a.m. — This morning, the National Weather Service in Eureka issued a fire weather watch for potions of northeastern interior Mendocino County as well as parts of Trinity and Lake Counties beginning Tuesday evening into Wednesday, due to forecasted heat and wind conditions that will lead to low humidity and increased fire risk. You can check the forecast for your specific area here. The link to check a specific address for the planned power shut-offs is at the end of the original article, below. Also as of this morning, the planned power-shutoff has been upgraded from “elevated” to “watch” levels on the PG&E; the highest level is one level above, which the utility company calls a “PSPS warning.”
MENDOCINO Co., 8/15/21 — PG&E has announced the possibility of a planned power shutoff for a number of California counties on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, including Mendocino, due to the forecasted weather conditions which indicate an increased chance of fire risk. According to the utility’s planned power shutoff weather forecasting page, hot and dry conditions with increased winds are expected beginning Tuesday, and PG&E may decide to preemptively shut-off power to portions of Northern California, as they have done in Mendocino County and others in recent years to minimize the risk of power equipment or lines sparking and leading to a wildfire.
The current information from PG&E is that the utility is considering a planned power shutoff, dubbed a “public safety power shutoff” (PSPS) that could include 239 utility customers and 15 medical baseline customers in Mendocino County beginning on Tuesday, August 17. Right now, the company has issued a statement putting Mendocino County on “elevated” alert, shown in yellow on the chart, and has not increased the possible shut-off to the higher levels of “warning,” or “watch.” However, that information is likely to change in the coming hours and days and so residents should be prepared for possible outages. As of now, there are no fire weather advisories for Mendocino County issued by the National Weather Service.
Past power shut-offs have included all of Mendocino County, such as in October 2019, but since then PG&E has stated that the company has improved the ability to shut-off smaller portions of the grid, and subsequent power shutoffs have only included small portions of Mendocino County. Maps indicate a small number of affected customers in southeast Mendocino County, east of U.S. Highway 101, as well as another pocket of customers north of state Highway 20 near the Lake County Line, but most of the customers affected by the potential outage are in the Leggett area north of Laytonville. The shut-off is also expected to potentially include over 2,000 customers in Lake County, and over 600 in Humboldt, with 27,000 potentially shut-off across Northern California.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office encouraged residents to be prepared and to check with PG&E as the utility provides updates in the coming days. If a power shut-off is implemented, it can take at least 24 hours after PG&E has deemed that the fire risk has subsided in order to inspect and then re-energize the lines, so there is the possibility that power could be shut-off for several days.
PG&E planned power shut-off news release from August 15, 2021:
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) opened its emergency operations center today, and the company’s meteorologists and operations professionals are monitoring a potential dry offshore wind event forecasted to start Tuesday evening (Aug. 17). Given this wind event and current conditions including extreme to exceptional drought and extremely dry vegetation, PG&E has begun sending 48-hour advance notifications to customers in targeted areas where PG&E may need to proactively turn power off for safety to reduce the risk of wildfire from energized power lines.
Potential Public Safety Power Shutoff Tuesday Night
The potential PSPS event starting Tuesday night could affect approximately 39,000 customers in small portions of 16 counties in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the North Coast, the North Valley and the North Bay mountains. While the majority of customers—about 27,000—are in Butte and Shasta counties, we are also notifying customers who may experience safety shutoffs in portions of 14 other counties: Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Napa, Plumas, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo and Yuba.
The potential PSPS event is approximately 48 hours away and conditions may change. PG&E’s in-house meteorologists, as well as its Wildfire Safety Operations Center and Emergency Operations Center, continue to closely monitor conditions. We will share additional customer notifications as conditions evolve.
Customer notifications—via text, email and automated phone call—began Sunday evening, approximately two days prior to the potential shutoff. PG&E employees will pay individual, in-person visits when possible to customers enrolled in the company’s Medical Baseline program who do not verify that they have received these important safety communications, with a primary focus on customers who rely on electricity for critical life-sustaining equipment.
Potentially Affected Counties
Customers can look up their address online to find out if their location is being monitored for the potential safety shutoff at www.pge.com/pspsupdates.
The potential shutoff is currently expected to affect approximately 39,000 customers across the following counties:
- Butte County: 13,841 customers, 1,366 Medical Baseline customers
- Glenn County: 17 customers, 2 Medical Baseline customers
- Humboldt County: 643 customers, 13 Medical Baseline customers
- Lake County: 2,727 customers, 184 Medical Baseline customers
- Lassen County: 65 customers, 7 Medical Baseline customers
- Mendocino County: 239 customers, 15 Medical Baseline customers
- Napa County: 1,804 customers, 87 Medical Baseline customers
- Plumas County: 778 customers, 27 Medical Baseline customers
- Shasta County: 14,027 customers, 1,239 Medical Baseline customers
- Sierra County: 1,035 customers, 30 Medical Baseline customers
- Solano County: 71 customers, 3 Medical Baseline customers
- Sonoma County: 106 customers, 1 Medical Baseline customer
- Tehama County: 2,856 customers, 219 Medical Baseline customers
- Trinity County: 426 customers, 21 Medical Baseline customers
- Yolo County: 100 customers, 4 Medical Baseline customers
- Yuba County: 531 customers, 49 Medical Baseline customers
Public Safety Power Shutoffs: What PG&E Customers Should Know
Why PG&E Calls a PSPS Event
As each weather situation is unique, we carefully review a combination of factors when deciding if power must be turned off. These factors include:
- Low humidity levels, generally 30% and below.
- A forecast of high winds, particularly sustained winds above 20 miles per hour and wind gusts above 30-40 miles per hour.
- Condition of dry material on the ground and low moisture content of vegetation.
- A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service.
- Real-time ground observations from our Wildfire Safety Operations Center and from our crews working across the service territory.
This year, our decision-making process is evolving to also account for the presence of trees tall enough to strike power lines when determining if a PSPS event is necessary.
Every wildfire season is different, and the ongoing drought and the conditions will determine the number of times we will need to shut off power, without compromising safety.
This set of criteria is a first step which may lead to further analysis from our meteorology team to determine if a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event is necessary.
Here’s Where to Learn More
- PG&E’s emergency website (www.pge.com/pspsupdates) is now available in 16 languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Russian, Vietnamese, Korean, Farsi, Arabic, Hmong, Khmer, Punjabi, Japanese, Thai, Portuguese, and Hindi. Customers will have the opportunity to choose their language of preference for viewing the information when visiting the website.
- Customers are encouraged to update their contact information and indicate their preferred language for notifications by visiting www.pge.com/mywildfirealerts or by calling 1-800-743-5000, where in-language support is available.
- Tenants and non-account holders can sign up to receive PSPS ZIP Code Alerts for any area where you do not have a PG&E account by visitingwww.pge.com/pspszipcodealerts.
- At PG&E’s Safety Action Center (www.safetyactioncenter.pge.com) customers can prepare for emergencies. By using the “Make Your Own Emergency Plan” tool and answering a few short questions, visitors to the website can compile and organize the important information needed for a personalized family emergency plan. This includes phone numbers, escape routes and a family meeting location if an evacuation is necessary.