PSPS UPDATE: PG&E Has Shut Off Power for Safety During Dry Northerly Wind Event, Affecting About 8,400 Customers in Small Portions of Eight Counties
Safety Shutoffs Began Wednesday, August 30 at 2:00 a.m. PT
Weather All Clears Anticipated in the Afternoon Wednesday, August 30, Allowing Power Restoration to Begin
OAKLAND, Calif. — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) confirms that it is in the process of implementing a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) affecting about 8,400 customers in two tribal areas and small portions of eight counties. The first wave of targeted safety shutoffs began Wednesday, August 30 around 2:00 a.m. Pacific Time with the last wave of targeted safety shutoffs expected to be completed around 5:30 a.m. PT. According to PG&E meteorologists, the primary period of concern is early Wednesday morning, where wind gusts up to 45 mph are expected to spread southward down the western Sacramento Valley and adjacent terrain. Relative humidity values may fall to 10%-20% in the Sacramento Valley. This has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Red Flag Warning for the greater Sacramento Valley with the highest threat mainly along and west of Interstate 5. As a result of this wind event, combined with low humidity and extremely dry vegetation, PG&E began notifying customers – via text, email, and automated phone call—on Monday, August 28 approximately two days prior to the potential shutoffs. PG&E then sent one-day advance notifications on Tuesday, August 29 to customers in areas where PG&E anticipated needing to proactively turn off power for safety to reduce the risk of wildfire from energized power lines. PG&E also contacted customers, as well as agencies, tribes and counties, in the hours prior to the de-energization process.
Timeline for Safety Shutoffs
Times below may change (earlier or later) dependent on the dynamic weather environment. Times below as of 2:00 a.m. PT on Wednesday, August 30, 2023:
|0200||Pit River Tribes (Shasta)|
|0400||Grindstone Rancheria (Glenn)|
* Counties/Tribes may fall into multiple de-energization time places PG&E anticipates weather “all clears” will occur as early as Wednesday, August 30, in the afternoon with varying times depending on individual locations.
Customers can look up their address at www.pge.com/pspsupdates to see if they are included in the potential safety shutoff. The shutoff is expected to affect approximately 8,400 customers in these counties:
- Butte County: 349 customers, 23 Medical Baseline customers
- Colusa County: 531 customers, 38 Medical Baseline customers
- Glenn County: 365 customers, 19 Medical Baseline customers
- Lake County: 50 customers, 3 Medical Baseline customers
- Napa County: 8 customers, 0 Medical Baseline customers
- Shasta County: 3,813 customers, 355 Medical Baseline customer
- Tehama County: 3,249 customers, 352 Medical Baseline customers
- Yolo County: 30 customers, 1 Medical Baseline customer
Restoration Expected to Begin later on Wednesday, August 30
PG&E anticipates notifying customers on Wednesday afternoon when the weather system has passed and will provide continuous updates on when to expect the power to turn back on. Once conditions are clear, PG&E electric crews will begin patrolling and check de-energized lines for hazards or damage to make sure it is safe to restore power. Restoration steps include:
- Inspect: PG&E crews will work to visually inspect for potential weather-related damage to the lines, poles and towers.
- Repair: Where equipment damage is found, PG&E crews work to isolate the damaged area from the rest of the system so other parts of the system can be restored.
- Restore: Once the poles, towers and lines are safe to energize, PG&E’s Control Center can complete the process and restore power to affected areas.
- Notification: Customers are notified that power has been restored.
How Customers Can Prepare
- Use a cell phone or hard-wired phone. Cordless phones do not work without electricity.
- Use battery-operated flashlights, not candles, which may pose a fire hazard.
- Unplug or turn off all electric and heat-producing appliances (e.g., air conditioners, washers and dryers, ovens, stoves, irons) to avoid overloading circuits. Overloaded circuits can be a fire hazard once power is restored.
- Unplug televisions and computers that were in use when the power went out.
- Leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed, and place extra containers of ice inside to preserve food. A full freezer will remain colder longer.
- Notify your alarm company if you have an alarm system. Equipment can be affected by outages.
- Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
- Reset clocks, thermostats and other programmed equipment after power is restored.
Backup power can be a vital part of any emergency preparedness plan in the event of a power outage. PG&E’s residential and business customers can review key considerations, safety tips, financing and retailer information by visiting pge.com/backuppower.
On Wednesday, eight Community Resource Centers (CRCs) in five counties will open to support customers affected by this event. View the most current list of CRCs at www.pge.com/pspsupdates. CRCs open at 8 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. for the remainder of the shutoff. During a PSPS, PG&E opens CRCs where community members can access resources, including:
- A safe location to meet their basic power needs, such as charging medical equipment and electronic devices.
- Up-to-date information about the PSPS.
- Water, snacks and other essential items to reduce hardships to our customers.
Why PG&E Calls a PSPS Event
The sole purpose of a PSPS is to reduce the risk of major wildfires during severe weather. While a PSPS is an important wildfire safety tool, PG&E understands that losing power disrupts lives. We initiate a PSPS event when the weather forecast is for such severe weather that people’s safety, lives, homes and businesses may be in danger of wildfires. 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 19 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 observations from our network of more than 1,500 weather stations.
Our decision-making process also accounts for the presence of trees tall enough to strike powerlines. 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 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 1-800-742-5000, 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 visiting www.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.
PG&E’s Commitment to Wildfire Safety Using advanced technologies and rebuilding the electric system from the underground up, we are preventing wildfires, improving reliability and reducing costs over the long term. We are building the energy grid of the future that our customers deserve while also taking immediate steps to keep customers safe. Our wildfire prevention work relies on layers of protection to make our system safer and more resilient while positioning us to better serve our customers in the short and long-term. These tools help us respond to our state’s evolving climate challenges:
- Our 10,000-mile Undergrounding Program is the largest effort in the U.S. to underground powerlines as a wildfire risk reduction measure.
- In addition to undergrounding, we are strengthening the electric system with stronger poles and covered powerlines in and near high fire-risk areas.
- Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings (EPSS) decrease ignitions and provide wildfire protection to all customers living in high fire-risk areas.
- We continue to reduce the impact of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). While there were no weather-driven PSPS outages in 2022, it continues to be a top focus for our team.
- We are managing trees and other vegetation located near powerlines that could cause a power outage and/or ignition.
- We are also investing in advanced tools and technologies like artificial intelligence and drones that help us automate fire detection and response.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news. You can read about PG&E’s data privacy practices here or at PGE.com/privacy.