PG&E customers in Montclair frustrated with inaccurate alerts on power shutoffs

Amid the relief that no major wildfires broke out, many are frustrated with PG&E for sending inaccurate information about the power shutoffs.

Jeff Diamond, the owner of Farmstead Cheeses & Wine in Oakland's Montclair Village, has not been able to open this week. Not because of COVID-19, but because power has been out due to the Public Safety Power Shutoff. 

"Four times in two years," Diamond said. 

That's how many times he says the threat of wildfires has forced the blackout.

Diamond says it's a lot of work to move the perishable cheeses into a refrigerator at his other store in Alameda.

"The cheese cases are hard-wired. So even if I had a generator it wouldn't have dome any good. So 900 to 1200 pounds of cheese moved to another shop," the store owner said. 

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Diamond says while he is not happy about the blackouts, he believes they are necessary. 

"I do feel PG&E is acting cautiously and in good faith and helping out this neighborhood," he said.

But on the neighborhood social networking site Nextdoor, Montclair residents seemed frustrated. Many of them received alerts that power would shut off Tuesday morning. Instead, it cut Monday night.

One post read, "Sitting in the dark 10 p.m. Monday night. One hour ago we received a voicemail that power will go out Tuesday a.m. "plan ahead." How can you plan ahead with such faulty notice?"

MORE: PG&E says there's evidence power shutoff prevented wildfires

Someone commented, "The question here is how badly PG&E miscommunicated the last minute PSPS."

"I do believe communications can be stronger and can be better. My office is a little frustrated," said Councilwoman Sheng Thao, who represents Oakland's 4th district which covers Montclair. 

The electric company acknowledged that some problems arose. PG&E said it mistakenly sent notices to 500 customers in Oakland saying they would not be part of the blackout, when in fact they did lose power.

"That message should never have gone out. We apologize for the inconvenience and we are looking into the process to make sure things move more smoothly next time," says PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian.

PG&E said it expects to have everyone restored by late Tuesday or early Wednesday.