Heightened fire danger brings potential PG&E power shutoffs to Bay Area

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Pacific Gas and Electric is expected to turn off power to customers in Napa and parts of the East Bay and is considering other Bay Area counties due to increased fire risks. 

PG&E has not confirmed any power shutoffs, but local police departments say the outages are likely, making for an anxious two-year anniversary of the Tubbs Fire from 2017. Of 600,000 customers at risk of power shutoffs, half are in the Bay Area with Sonoma County facing the greatest impact. 

Emergency operations centers are opening to help cope with what could be an unprecedented outage.  

Lafayette police said 21,421 PG&E customers in Moraga, Orinda and Lafayette could expect a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) beginning Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. and will last at least through Thursday afternoon.

Also in Contra Costa County it was announced Monday night that Danville town limits could also be affected at Wednesday starting at 12:00 a.m. Danville Police Department expects power to be restored by Thursday at noon.  

Areas possibly affected include the Sycamore Valley, east of Alta Vista Drive and Camino Tassajara to the eastern town limits; and the southern portion of Town in the Fostoria Way and Crow Canyon neighborhoods. 

The National Weather Service issued a Fire Weather Watch in anticipation of dry weather conditions and gusty winds for Wednesday morning through Thursday afternoon. 

PG&E said Monday morning it's monitoring the situation, while also warning customers that it may implement a PSPS if weather conditions worsen. 

San Jose State University meteorologist Dr. Alison Bridger said, "When the models tell us there's going to be a wind event in three or four days, it's almost there's going to be a wing event in three or four days."

Bridger says the forthcoming winds are fueled by the wave-like nature of the jet stream. Low-pressure forces air over the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, which can spark fires such as the one last year in Redding or the Paradise Fire in 2018. 

"Just one spark from one source, and then potentially, we could have a big fire somewhere," she said. 

PG&E officials are seeing the same potential for disaster and want to take precaution, shutting off power to customers. Initiating a PSPS lowers the chance energized lines can be blown down and spark disasters. 

"This is another step that we take to help reduce wildfire risk in our service area. And we only do this an event where it's absolutely critical to protect public safety," said Jason King, a PG&E spokesman. 

The goal is to prevent another disaster that results in the loss of life and property. 

On Monday evening around 4:30 p.m. Napa County officials said the utility was shutting off power to customers starting Wednesday morning and may extend five days or longer. 

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said the city plans to activate an emergency readiness center on Tuesday night, but did not confirm any planned shutoffs in the South Bay. In a news conference the mayor alluded to power shutoffs possibly lasting up to seven days in the South Bay. 

He advised in the event of a PSPS that people should shelter in place and motorists should stay off roads because traffic signals would not be operating in affected areas.

"Please sign up to receive alerts from PG&E. Make sure your contact information is up to date," advised the mayor. He said you could go to PG&E's website to update your information there.   

Families should have medical supplies in order and emergency kits ready. Those kits should include a gallon of water per day for each person and pet. Nonperishable or canned food for up to seven days and a can opener. A solar powered, hand crank, or battery powered radio with extra batteries. You should also have a flashlight in your kit. 

Officals also advise to keep your mobile devices charged and to identify backup charging methods. If you have a generator, make sure you have extra fuel. Remember that gas stations, stores, ATMs in the immediate area will be closed. Know how to use the manual release on your garage door and talk to neighbors and friends and share your emergency plans.  

Monday October 7th, 2019 :: 08:10 p.m. PDT
AdvisoryPG&E will be conducting a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) in Moraga, Orinda and Lafayette area. See attached.
The City of Lafayette has been notified by PG&E that they will be conducting a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) in Moraga, Orinda and Lafayette on Wednesday morning in response to weather conditions that are forecast for the East Bay from Wednesday 4:00 a.m. to Thursday 12:00 p.m.  
If there are no changes to the weather forecast, PG&E will begin de-energizing power lines at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday.  The weather event is forecast to end around 12:00 p.m. on Thursday.  Once the weather event has past, PG&E will reinspect power lines prior to energizing them.
This will affect approximately 7500 PG&E customers in Lafayette (21,421 in Lamorinda).
What this means is that electrical power will be shut off beginning Wednesday 12:01 a.m. and will be off until at least Thursday afternoon.
Here are some tips to help prepare:

Plan for your family and pet medical needs.  Do you have enough prescription meds?  If you have major medical needs that depend upon electricity, is it safer for you to relocate to a friend's or family member's home out of the area?
Have an emergency supply kit with food and water.
Flashlights?  Extra batteries?
Keep all of your mobile devices charged.
Identify backup charging methods.
Store water and non-perishable foods.
If you have a generator, do you have extra fuel?
Keep vehicle fuel tanks full.
Remember, gas stations, stores and ATMs in the immediate area will be closed.
Know how to use the manual release on your garage door.
Talk with your neighbors and friends and share your plans.
During the outage:

  • Keep freezers and refrigerators closed.
  • Monitor freezer and refrigerator temperatures with a thermometer.
  • Use perishable food supplies first.
  • Use generators, stoves and grills outdoors away from windows.
  • Disconnect electronics and appliances to avoid damage from electrical surges.
  • Check on neighbors, animals and family.
  • Drive safely and slowly as traffic signals may not be functioning properly.

These other counties may be impacted:  

  • Alameda
  • Alpine
  • Amador
  • Butte
  • Calaveras
  • Colusa
  • Contra Costa
  • El Dorado
  • Glenn
  • Lake
  •  Mariposa
  • Mendocino
  • Nevada
  • Placer
  • Plumas
  • San Joaquin
  • San Mateo
  • Santa Clara
  • Santa Cruz
  • Shasta
  • Sierra
  • Solano
  • Sonoma
  • Stanislaus
  • Tehama
  • Tuolumne
  • Yolo
  • Yuba

                                Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) Affected Areas