Wildfire safety blackouts in California impact 37,000 PG&E customers, will last till Friday
This is the fourth 'public safety power shutoff' in a month and a half
Tens of thousands of Pacific Gas and Electric Company customers in North California may have their power out until Friday after the utility said it was cutting power once again due to high winds raising the risk of wildfires.
The nation's largest utility, PG&E, said it was de-energizing certain electrical lines for safety on Wednesday night as part of a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS).
"PG&E is calling a PSPS due to a high-wind event combined with low humidity and severely dry vegetation, that together create high risk of catastrophic wildfires," the utility said.
CALIFORNIA UTILITY USING 'SMARTER, SHORTER' TACTIC FOR BLACKOUTS TO PREVENT WILDFIRES
This is the fourth PSPS in a month and a half for the region, which has faced continued bouts of dry conditions and winds making for a devastating wildfire season.
The shutoffs are an effort by the utility to prevent fires from being started by damaged power lines fouled or knocked down in high winds. The PSPS programs used by PG&E and other utilities have been developed in response to disasters.
In this latest shutoff, PG&E said due to changes in the weather forecast, the number of customers impacted has decreased by 31% from original estimates.
This PSPS event will affect 37,000 customers in 15 counties, down from the original projections of 50,000.
The targeted areas for the shutoff include portions of Alameda, Butte, Colusa, Contra Costa, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Napa, Plumas, Santa Clara, Shasta, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, and Yolo Counties.
WILDFIRE SAFETY BLACKOUTS IN CALIFORNIA MAY IMPACT 50,000 PG&E CUSTOMERS
Lines began being de-energized starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday and continued through the evening across the Sacramento Valley, Northern Sierra, and elevated terrain of the North and East Bay.
"All of these areas are covered by National Weather Service Red Flag Warnings, indicating critical fire weather conditions," the utility said.
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The shutoffs are expected to last through Friday morning when this latest round of winds subsides. PG&E said it will patrol the de-energized lines to determine if they were damaged during the wind event and repair and damage found.
"PG&E will then safely restore power in stages and as quickly as possible, with the goal of restoring power to nearly all customers within 12 daylight hours after severe weather has passed," the utility said.
Cal Fire said Wednesday that a red flag warning is in effect for much of Northern California until 5 p.m. on Friday.
Dry conditions, with lower humidity, will create conditions for rapid fire spread.