Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) expected to complete restoration on Tuesday for all remaining customers whose power was proactively turned off overnight Sunday for safety in response to extreme weather conditions.
On Monday, the company had restored about 66% of impacted customers across six counties, or around 40,000 customers in the North Bay and Sierra Foothills of Northern California.
In the face of high Santa Ana wind conditions over the weekend and on Monday, the San Francisco-based utility began proactively turning off power to several communities, implementing one of the preventive steps identified for state utilities in the wake of last year’s devastating wildfires.
“Crews are currently conducting inspections and will restore power once it is safe to do so and all repairs — if needed — have been made,” a spokesperson said Monday. Early Monday conditions had improved, allowing PG&E crews to begin patrols of lines to identify any damage from the high winds, using helicopters, vehicles and foot patrols.
Called the utility’s public safety power shutoff deployed in extreme fire-risk areas, PG&E activated the program in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties in the North Bay area, and Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado and Placer counties in the Sierra Foothills area.
Overnight Sunday into Monday, wind speeds were clocked at 60 mph, with gusts up to 70 mph in the three North Bay counties, while wind speeds were modest (20-25 mph) in the four-county foothills region, but some gusts were clocked at 55 mph.
“Out of an abundance of caution, PG&E began providing notice to customers in advance of this safety event through automated phone calls, texts, social media and e-mails last Saturday,” the utility spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, Southern California Edison Co. (SCE) did not report any preventive safety outages, as the winds in the high risk areas apparently didn’t reach extreme levels.
In the SCE Outage Center, the utility posted an explanation to customers indicating, “we may proactively shut off power in high-fire-risk areas when extreme weather conditions present a clear and imminent danger to public safety. De-energizing customers is not something we take lightly and is only sparingly used in the most extreme conditions.”
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