PG&E warns 70,000 customers of possible power outages ahead of increased fire danger

Early Wednesday morning, PG&E sent 70,000 customers in nine counties a 24-hour notice that their power might be cutoff for a high wind weather event that could materialize overnight.  

World famous wine and tourist town St. Helena sits in a very narrow part of the Napa Valley right at the foot of two mountain ranges. When power was cut off last month, the mountainous areas were affected and it took two days to restore power. 

It could happen here again Thursday, including St. Helena Hospital which, though it has ample back-up generators, chose to cancel many appointments and procedures.

"We understand how important electricity is and we would only do this as a last resort. We are only doing this for the safety of our customers and the safety of our communities," said PG&E Spokeswoman Deanna Contreras.

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Parts of counties that could be affected by tomorrow's potential shutoffs include: Napa, Sonoma, Lake, 
Yuba, Butte, Nevada, Placer, Plumas and Sierra counties. It will take days to restore power to many of the more remote locations. 

"It's pretty much a five step process. You have to make sure the weather is all clear, you have to patrol and inspect every mile of every line and then you have to isolate and repair any damage that's been found and then you can restore the electricity by reenergizing the lines and then the fifth step is to contact customers and let them know that the power has been restored," Contreras said.

In Napa County, 5,700 customers face shut offs, most likely in Angwin, Pope Valley and, as mentioned, unincorporated St. Helena. 

Unincorporated rural northeast Sonoma County could experience 400 cutoffs. 

The Lake County towns of Middletown, Clear Lake Oaks, Cobb, Hidden Valley Lake and Kelseyville could face 6,000 customer cut offs. 

"Shutting off the power is a last resort, a last resort," said Contreras.

If the power cutoffs actually do happen, PG&E thinks they'll happen early Thursday morning, around 6 AM. And, of course, all of that is subject to change.