SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Pacific Gas & Electric Co. announced Monday that widespread dry winds forecast for midweek will prompt power shutoffs in Napa, parts of the East Bay and potentially in portions of 30 counties the utility serves.
The utility confirmed Monday afternoon that it plans to begin shutting off power in Napa County beginning early Wednesday morning due to “potentially widespread, strong and dry wind event” that is forecast through Thursday afternoon. The shutoff may extend for five days or longer.
Napa, Calistoga and St. Helena are among the North Bay towns that will be impacted by the shutdown.
“We are only taking these steps if it’s absolutely necessary to protect the safety of our customers,” said PG&E spokesperson Melissa Subbotin
PG&E will also shut off power in Moraga, Orinda and Lafayette in the East Bay at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday if there are no changes to the weather forecast. The shutoff will affect approximately 21,421 customers in the area until at least Thursday afternoon.
Also in Contra Costa County, the town of Danville will have power shut off on Wednesday.
Rohnert Park also wants residents to know that PG&E may proactively turn off power in the town for safety. The utility issued a safety alert at around 2:15 p.m. Some winds are forecast to be over 50 mph. Retired attorney Eileen McGee was not happy about the announcement.
“They didn’t do the maintenance work all these years we thought they were and they were being paid to do it!” said McGee. “And now, they’re putting patches on as the winds come. I mean, it’s criminal.”
Jenny Moore lives nearby and isn’t so sure if the potential outage will happen.
“I don’t think they’ll do it. Honestly, they said they were going to do it before and they didn’t and it was hotter,” said Moore.
A lot of Rohnert Park residents told KPIX 5 they were not sure what they would do if the power is shut down. PG&E says the decisions of where to cut power will be made on a case by case basis.
A Fire Weather Watch has also been declared by the National Weather Service for vast portions of Northern California midweek.
“Due to the forecasted extreme weather conditions, PG&E is considering proactively turning off power for safety, and implementing a Public Safety Power Shutoff, across portions of approximately 30 northern, central, coastal and Bay Area counties,” the utility said.
In other parts of the Bay Area, customers in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma counties could be impacted.
For the first time, Contra Costa County is on the list of potential public safety power shutoffs. The concern is the thick, tangled canopy of trees and power lines in the area of Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda and the narrow roads filled with homes beneath it
Residents in the area started getting alerts from PG&E Monday afternoon about potential power shutoffs.
“I’m not very happy about it and I think it’s over precaution on their part,” Lafayette resident Lewis Giles told KPIX 5.
BART said it has been working with PG&E and the transit agency doesn’t expect the power shutoffs to impact train or station service. But PSPS impacts are expected around Rockridge, Orinda, Lafayette, Castro Valley, West Dublin and Dublin stations.
Riders are asking us how BART service will be impacted if @PGE4Me shuts off power in the Bay Area to prevent forest fires.
Due to new power redundancies, we expect no disruption to train or station service if power is shut off. We have been working with PG&E in preparation. https://t.co/j0mSWQsXt1
— SFBART (@SFBART) October 7, 2019
San Mateo County officials also issued information about possible impacts to residents. Along the coast, North Moss Beach, El Granada and Half Moon Bay to the Santa Cruz border including Pescadero could be affected.
In the foothills region mostly west of 280, Portola Valley, Woodside and the surrounding unincorporated area could see power shutdowns.
“I don’t know what people will do. Five days? Restaurants, businesses…just so PG&E doesn’t get sued,” said Cindy Graham of Half Moon Bay.
San Mateo County supervisor David Canepa says PG&E gave the county too little notice and did not discuss other solutions beyond a unilateral forced blackout.
“They really need to invest and make sure they find solutions around equipment. Instead of putting people in the dark for five days,” Canepa said.
The County of San Mateo will provide public updates via its social media platforms and SMC Alert system. Residents can register at www.smcalert.info. Individual cities impacted may also provide updates specific to that jurisdiction.
PG&E urges customers to update their contact information with the utility either online at http://pge.com/mywildfirealerts or by calling 1-866-743-6589 to receive alerts about power shutoffs. Customers can also check the utility’s website page for information on public safety power shutoff events.
Customers are also urged to plan for medical needs, find backup ways to charge devices, restock emergency kits and to keep tabs on the elderly, children and pets.
Don Ford, Andria Borba, Christin Ayers and Joe Vazquez contributed to this report.