SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — PG&E on Tuesday warned customers in the Bay Area about a new policy that will cut electricity to certain neighborhoods during extreme fire weather conditions.

The “wildfire safety alerts” went out to homeowners in high wildfire threat areas to notify them about the policy.

Customers were told to be “prepared” for when the alerts go into effect and the power could be abruptly cut off.

PG&E is talking about using these pre-emptive power outages specifically during the threat of wildfires like the ones that destroyed nearly a quarter of a million acres in the north bay last October.

PG&E has now been blamed for some of those fires. 90,000 people were evacuated and more than 40 people died.

PG&E says it knows the importance of power and won’t pull the plug lightly.

“This is something we would do as a last resort. We know how much our customers value electricity. We know how important it is to them, and we certainly pledge to give as much notice as we can,” said PG&E spokesman Matt Naumann.

PG&E says customers must keep their contact information up to date for emergency texts, emails and phones calls in order to be notified of any planned outages.

Southern California Edison has a similar program in place

In the Bay Area, it will affect about 500,000 homes specifically located in extreme fire threat areas.

The affected regions include much of the area that burned in the wine country wildfires.

The announcement comes on the heels of last week’s Cal Fire report that blamed PG&E for a dozen of the Wine Country wildfires.

The report noted that trees and branches came into contact with power lines during the extreme weather event, sparking the blazes last October.

That conclusion opened PG&E to lawsuits and potential damages in the billions of dollars.

Cal Fire said it found evidence of potential violations of state law. It has turned its finding over to county district attorneys’ offices, who will decide about filing charges.

Comments (3)
  1. Stephen Claydon says:

    It’s all very tidy that PG&E has this policy, but they only issued warnings yesterday for last night. Thousand of people were affected. This is not just an “inconvenience”, there were serious losses just from this outage. I have a friend who has a grocery store in one of the affected areas, and a few hours notice is hardly useful when you have thousands of $ in frozen and fresh food and no refrigeration. No power all day today, and the public comment that crews were checking their equipment are such BS. i personally was on the road in 2 counties all day and never saw a single PG&E service crew, which is rare even on a good day.

    I get why they want to cut power, but it’s really nothing more than self-interest. PG&E will be brought to heel one way or another for their continued abuse and malfeasance, but only if they are made to feel the pain and financial loss on their scale that they cause for their customers every year.

  2. Erik Kengaard says:

    Does the state require PG&E to provide power in fire zones, or is that PG&E’s choice?