PG&E to Shut Off Power for Up to 5 Days

A traffic cone sits next to a Pacific Gas & Electric truck on Jan. 17 2019 in Fairfax California

A traffic cone sits next to a Pacific Gas & Electric truck on Jan. 17 2019 in Fairfax California

Last year's Camp Fire, the deadliest fire in California's history, was sparked by power lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric, according to Cal Fire.

PG&E projected the "weather event" would subside in the Bay Area by midday on Thursday.

The NWS forecasts wind gusts from 45 to 65 miles per hour across some parts of the area, saying the wind, coupled with low humidity and dry terrain, "will create critical fire weather conditions" for much of Thursday.

Earlier this year, PG&E alerted the public and regulatory authorities that it may implement "public safety power shutoff" scenarios at times of "extreme weather or wildfire conditions", reads the PG&E website dedicated to public information about the program.

This week, PG&E announced that power would be turned off for portions of 34 northern, central and coastal counties, affecting service for almost 800,000 customers.

PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January over billions of dollars in payouts to victims of the Camp Fire wildfires last November, which claimed dozens of lives and destroyed thousands of homes. However, 32 customers in Santa Maria may be impacted, according to PG&E.

"In Northern California, the big fire concern is when we see what we're going to see midweek, " said Cory Mueller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. It will affect around 513,000 customers there, the utility company said. Experts say there are generally 2.5 people for each electrical customer.

PG&E Corp., the California utility giant forced into bankruptcy by devastating wildfires, is cutting power to more homes and businesses in the second phase of its biggest-ever intentional blackout created to keep power lines from sparking more blazes. "We don't know how long", Tianna Pasche, of Oakland, said before her area was powered down.




The agency also has issued red flag warnings across much of Northern California.

The outages could last around than 48 hours, although PG&E suggests customers prepare for outages that "could last several days".

Before PG&E Corp.'s massive blackout swept across Northern California, Tesla Inc. issued a politely worded but urgent message to its many area customers: charge up your vehicle, now.

"It's been so hard for us to have class and continue with school throughout the power outage because really everything we do runs on power", Norman said.

In Sausalito, just outside San Francisco, Laura Stiles arrived to her office Wednesday to find "complete and utter darkness".

During such a power shutoff, PG&E may turn off electricity for entire communities, cities or even counties in order to reduce the likelihood of live, damaged power lines igniting dry vegetation and sparking large-scale wildfires. That phase will impact around 42,000 customers in specific locations yet to be determined, PG&E said. It affected more than 500,000 customers there, the utility company said.

While many people said the blackouts were a necessity, others were outraged - the word that Gov. Gavin Newsom used in arguing that PG&E should have been working on making its power system sturdier and more weather-proof.

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