SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — The planned PG&E shutdown for Northern California is underway, but customer problems retrieving information online and a delay to the second round of shutoffs is leading to frustration over the process.
More than 480,000 customers have been in the dark since early Wednesday morning with the first wave of outages hitting the north bay after midnight.
It was lights out for Napa, Sonoma, Marin and Solano counties.
Despite earlier announcements, the utility pushed back the second round of shutoffs to 10 p.m. Wednesday night.
That includes parts of Santa Clara, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Contra Costa and Alameda Counties
Many KPIX 5 spoke with were expressing aggravation over the moving target of the shutoff time and the fact that the PG&E website was unavailable, overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of people trying to access it.
“PG&E has a huge role,” said Lafayette resident Blair Bishop. “They did not keep up their infrastructure over the last 30 years, but they should’ve been overseen by our politicians and our leaders to make sure it was done correctly.”
“This is the most irresponsible thing I’ve seen PG&E do in my lifetime,” said another customer.
When asked why PG&E was not prepared for their site to be up and running to provide vital information, a PG&E spokesperson said “We have received seven to eight times the amount of volume than we normally do to our website. We realize the frustration and we are working as fast as we can to make sure it runs quicker than it has been.”
PG&E postponed planned press conferences to provide updates several times over the course of the afternoon. When a spokesperson was made available to answer brief questions regarding the delays to the second round of power shutdowns and why barricades had been raised outside of PG&E offices, stock answers about the safety of PG&E customers and PG&E employees being “a top priority” with little in the way of specifics.