PG&E warned its nearly 16 million customers this week (8/14) that it could shut off electricity in entire cities for up to a week as part of its new fire-prevention safety measures.
In a message sent via email to customers, PG&E warned that it may suspend electrical service “for a minimum of 24 hours and up to a week” if there’s reason to suspect that live power lines may pose a particular danger of starting fires.
From PG&E’s “public safety power shut-off” site:
“Given the continued and growing threat of extreme weather and wildfires, and as an additional precautionary measure following the 2017 and 2018 wildfires, we are expanding and enhancing our Community Wildfire Safety Program to further reduce wildfire risks and help keep our customers and the communities we serve safe.
This includes expanding our Public Safety Power Shut-off program beginning with the 2019 wildfire season to include all electric lines that pass through high fire-threat areas – both distribution and transmission.”
Therefore “any customer who receives electric service from PG&E should be prepared for a possible public safety power outage” which could theoretically last up to seven days.
“No single factor will drive a public safety power shutoff,” the company warns, but variables like red flag warnings, low humidity, winds over 25 miles per hour, and dry ground conditions could all contribute to a decision to shut-off power.
PG&E reported that they staged a shutoff drill in the City of Orinda last week in preparation, and future drills may be pending.