SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KTVU) - Pacific Gas & Electric says it expects to get the all-clear before dawn Thursday to begin the process of restoring power to more than 100,000 people hit by a planned blackout.
The utility says 48,000 customers -- about 120,000 people -- in 10 Northern and central California counties lost electricity Wednesday. That was only about a third the number PG&E originally estimated it would black out because of forecasts for dry, windy weather that posed a wildfire threat.
As many as 83,000 customers were removed from the scope of outage areas.
Although Red Flag Warnings remain in effect for portions of the Northern California, PG&E’s meteorologist said they expire at 7 a.m. Thursday. They expect to issue an “all clear” by daybreak on Thursday, if not sooner.
In addition, the restoraton process was expected to ramp up in the overnight hours Wednesday night going into early Thursday morning.
The utility shut off power in portions of its service areas around 7 a.m., first starting in Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano, portions of Sonoma, and Yolo counties, leaving 48,000 customers in the dark.
The electric company said wind speeds exceeding 50 mph were recorded earlier in the day in most of those counties, including wind speeds over 70 mph in Sonoma County.
"Strong winds have the potential for damage and hazards to the electric system, which could ignite wildfires if lines are energized," the company said in a press release. "Parts of Northern California are experiencing one of the driest starts to the rain season, which began Oct. 1, in recent history."
PG&E is still monitoring evolving weather conditions to determine the need and timing of additional outages for 14,000 customers in Butte, Plumas, Tehama.
Approximately, 83,000 customers in El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sierra, Yuba, and western Sonoma County previously notified they would lose power, were later told they were no longer part of the shutoff.
The utility hopes to have power restored by Thursday night.
PG&E opened Community Resource Centers where restrooms, bottled water, electronic device charging, and air conditioning are provided for up to 100 people at each center. The address of the locations can be found at www.pge.com/pspsupdates.
Initially, the PG&E warned 303,000 customers in 25 counties of looming blackouts. The company said it removed 150,000 customers from the scope of the lastest shutoff.
County breakdown of forecasted outage numbers:
Lake: 12,800 customers
Napa: 10,400 customers
Solano: 81 customers
Sonoma: 19,200 customers
*The shutoff was canceled for West Sonoma County, so the figure could be lower.
Associated Press contributed to this report.