UPDATED 10:25 p.m.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company stated they are continuing to monitor a potentially powerful windy weather event expected to hit Saturday, October 26 between 6 and 10 p.m. and last through afternoon on Monday. The utility anticipates turning off power several hours before the winds arrive – 3:00 p.m. for the Sierra Foothills, 5:00 p.m. in North Bay and Mendocino, and 7:00 p.m. for the coastal areas and southern Sierra Foothills.
PG&E expects outage times to vary due to the different times each area may be impacted – some may see winds lasting longer periods than others. The potential Public Safety Power Shutoff will affect approximately 850,000 customers and 36 counties across portions of Humboldt, the Sierra foothills, Western Sacramento Valley, North Bay, and across the greater Bay area, Monterey Bay and northern Central Coast on Saturday.
Other customers in the southern-most portion of PG&E’s service area in Kern County could have power shut off on Sunday. Data indicates the weather event could be the most powerful in California in decades, with widespread dry Northeast winds between 45 to 60 miles per hour and peak gusts of 60 to 70 mph in the higher elevations. The utility urged the public on Friday night to prepare for an outage that lasts more than 48 hours.
Winds like those expected pose a higher risk of damage and sparks on the electric system and can rapidly spread wildfires. The fire risk is even higher because vegetation on the ground has been dried out by other recent wind events. Given the forecasted conditions, PG&E began issuing alerts for customers affected by the potential PSPS.
The upcoming potential PSPS could last several days, but the utility will continue to monitor the event as it gets closer. As new data comes available, PG&E stated the scope of the PSPS could change – an increase or decrease in those impacted by the PSPS. Amador will have Customer Resource Centers at Mace Meadows Golf Course, 26570 Fairway Drive in Pioneer and at Saint Katharine Drexel Catholic Parish, 11361 Prospect Drive in Jackson.
The shutoff is anticipated to affect 19,909 people in Amador County and 30,396 in Calaveras County. Additional alerts were sent out on Saturday morning, warning customers that PG&E has or will shut power off. CEO and President of PG&E Andrew Vesey stated the company agrees with the governor and there would need to be a discussion on policy.
However, he went on to state that time is not now and the company, with the public, needed to focus on getting though the current conditions. Vesey also issued a statement on the electrical failure in Sonoma, stating what they know was filed in their report and they have not made a determination on the cause of the fire.