PG&E working to restore natural gas for thousands still without heat in Discovery Bay

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PG&E crews in Discovery Bay are diligently working to restore natural gas to customers who have no heat as temperatures in the Bay Area are set to plunge Monday night.  

As of 5 p.m., roughly 2,800 of the 6,200 affected customers had their service restored Monday afternoon. 

Crews are working to reestablish service, but are doing it on a household by household basis, depending on whether or not someone is home. 

On Sunday morning, customers lost their natural gas service around 1 a.m.  The problem began with a service disruption at a gas facility, according to PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian. 

The company has set up warming centers at Timber Point Elementary School and the Discovery Bay Community Center, but there were few takers.

"We went and got a couple of portable heaters so that we would keep the rooms warm that we were in. It helped some, but we were still pretty cold last night," says Randy Switzer a PG&E Customer.

The laborious process of restoring service has been slow. It was originally reported to have been completed by 5 p.m. Monday.

"A lot of it has to do with when people are home. We need people to be home to restore service. So it's going to depend on when people get back from work," says Sarkissian.

According to PG&E, in order to reconnect the amount of people affected, it takes a small army. In this case, that army includes 200 PG&E technicians going to each and every customer in the outage area, making sure that they're “re-hooked” up properly.

"We want people to know that it is not safe to re-light their [own] pilot lights. That's something that should be left to PG&E," says Sarkissian.

Nonetheless, people who know how to re-light pilots, did just that, providing PG&E with a bit of a boost.

"We just turned the gas back on ourselves. In fact, the whole neighborhood did the same thing. These guys got enough stuff going on. It's not that big a deal," says PG&E customer Butch Theilen.

A day and a half after the outage first occurred, the precise cause remains elusive.

"We're still looking in to exactly what happened, we did replace some equipment at a regulator station as a precautionary measure," says Sarkissian.

Many were angered and said they were inconvenienced by the outage, but most people seemed to have taken it in holiday stride— actually praising the massive PG&E response.

"Very conscientious about what we needed, concern about us being cold. They're attentive, wanted to answer everything they could answer for you," says Switzer.

Those coming home late will find door cards listing numbers to call for quick re-lights.

Homeowner Niclole Clark dealt with the bitter cold with a sense of humor and an empty glass that was filled with hot chocolate.

“We’ve kind of done it all to try and stay warm,” she said. Some of her other efforts to stay warm have included; baking cookies in an electric oven and using space heaters.

She said PG&E finally restored gas to her home around 5 p.m., but that it wasn’t a moment too soon.

“We turned [the heat] on full blast that was our first reaction,” she said.

PG&E said it would have crews working late night and that workers have gone to all impacted homes.