FREMONT, Calif. - With the biggest storm of the rainy season, so far, bearing down on us, Pacific Gas & Electric says it's doing everything it can to minimize, downsize and limit any storm-induced outages over the weekend.
As the sun peaked through Fremont skies, PG&E's huge 25-acre materiel yard was and will be busy preparing for the strong storm expected Sunday and Monday.
"Between the very powerful wind and the rain, we can see damage to our equipment and that damage can lead to power outages," said PG&E Public Information Officer Tamar Sarkissian.
As soon as everything is loaded, it will be dispatched to the places PG&E's weather department predicts will take the biggest hits in a storm that will be Bay Area wide.
"We're bringing crews from the areas that are expected to be less hit," said Sarkissian.
In this yard is literally everything that a repair crew could possibly need: any size of conductor or power line that connects to virtually any other piece of equipment, from the tiniest of transformers to the largest of substations to your house.
PG&E says it continues to install anti-wildfire technologies that can and do reroute power in storms as well.
"We have been installing sectionalizers. This helps us switch customers from one line to another and so, in some cases, when there's an outage, we can switch the bulk of customers from that affected line to a different one," said Sarkissian.
This should be the last storm of this rainy season where we see dust and mud induced arcing and sparking as the utility still has not completely cleaned all it poles and equipment that the drought has laden with bone dry dirt and debris.
"When we get a little bit if rain, just a little bit, it can take that dirt and debris that has settled on our lines and our equipment and make it into a mud which conducts electricity. We will sometimes see outages and even pole fires in some cases and we have a proactive program to wash our poles, wash our equipment," said the PG&E spokesperson. Now, heavy rains will finish that job.
Meanwhile, if you see any downed lines, though they are most likely deenergized, assume they hot, active and lethal.