SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — As power was shut off for the first of nearly 180,000 Northern California residents with a second round of preventive power outages Wednesday afternoon, PG&E’s CEO confirmed another attack on a utility worker in the Central Valley.
The public safety power shutoff began in the North Bay at around 2:45 p.m. amid a Red Flag Warning and wildfire weather conditions.
During an early evening press conference, utility CEO Bill Johnson said that an employee in Glenn County was targeted in what appeared to be a deliberate attack.
“The employee was driving a PG&E vehicle when a projectile hit the front passenger window. Our security team believes that projectile was a pellet from a pellet gun,” said Johnson.
He went on to say that the employee was not injured, but he said that PG&E security and local law enforcement were investigating the incident before making a plea on behalf of workers in the field.
“Let me say this: there is no justification for this sort of violence. Whenever you see any of our crews anywhere in your community, they’re there to help,” said Johnson. They’re specifically there to help you. They’re not anonymous strangers; they’re your neighbors. They’re your friends. Most of of our front line employees live in the communities where they work.”
Johnson echoed a statement made by Governor Gavin Newsom, asking that customers be angry with PG&E, but not the utility’s employees.
Thousands of residents of Sonoma, Napa and San Mateo counties prepped Wednesday for new PG&E public safety power shutoffs. The three Bay Area counties were among the 17 Northern California counties targeted for the power shutdowns, but Sonoma was by far the largest with 26,845 customers being blacked out including neighborhoods in Santa Rosa, Sonoma and Healdsburg.
The Santa Rosa Fire Department tweeted that shutoffs began in the city at around 2:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Public Safety Power Shutoffs have begun in Santa Rosa. We have multiple reports of outages from the Rincon Valley and Oakmont Areas. Keep updated at https://t.co/LdaGn93C28 and https://t.co/foWpVBqRw9
— Santa Rosa Fire Department (@SantaRosaFire) October 23, 2019
In Napa, utility officials said 7,488 customers would lose their power and in San Mateo County about 370 customers would have their electricity shut off over night.
PG&E directed customers to a list of those impacted by cities and counties to its website at www.pge.com/pspsupdates
PG&E said a total of approximately 179,000 customers in Northern California counties would be impacted by the outages.
The timeline released by PG&E showed that were expected to begin around 2 p.m. in the Sierra foothills, 3 p.m. in the North Bay counties, and approximately 1 a.m. Thursday in affected areas of San Mateo and Kern counties.
The 17 counties to be affected are: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Kern, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Mateo, Sierra, Sonoma, Tehama and Yuba.
- Bay Area Power Shutoff Survival Guide
- San Mateo Co. Business Owners, Residents Brace For Next PG&E Power Shutoffs
The Sonoma County Office of Education said all schools in the Geyserville Unified School District and some schools in the Rincon Valley Union School District and San Rosa City Schools will be closed Thursday because of the power shutoff.
The Rincon Valley Union School District will close Whited, Binkley, Madrone, Austin Creek and Sequoia elementary schools and Rincon Valley Charter School’s Sequoia campus.
Santa Rosa City Schools will close Hidden Valley Elementary School, Santa Rosa Accelerated Charter School, Rincon Valley Middle School and Maria Carrillo High School.
The Sonoma County Office of Education said it receives official closure reports from superintendents only and it does not determine whether a school should be closed.
Earlier Wednesday, students at Carrillo High, Rincon Valley Middle, Santa Rosa Accelerated Charter and Hidden Valley were given early dismissal because of traffic safety concerns. Additional info on the schools was available at the district’s website: www.srcschools.org.
Santa Rosa Police, fearing a repeat of a flurry of accidents during the last outage, issued a list of intersection where the traffic lights will go dark.
- CHANATE/HIDDEN VALLEY
- BRUSH CREEK/MONTECITO/FOUNTAINGROVE PKWY
- MONTECITO/MIDDLE RINCON
- MONTECITO/ST. MARY DR.
- HWY 12/CALISTOGA
- HWY 12/BRUSH CREEK
- HWY 12/STREAMSIDE
- HWY 12/MISSION
- HWY 12/ACACIA
- HWY 12/MIDDLE RINCON
- HWY 12/MOUNTAIN HAWK
- HWY 12/LOS ALAMOS
- HWY 12/MELITA
- HWY 12/OAKMONT DR
- HWY 12/PYTHIAN
The National Weather Service predicted conditions would begin deteriorating Wednesday afternoon through Thursday at 4 p.m. with temperature soaring, winds gusting to 40 mph or higher and humidity dropping to bone dry levels.
Forecasts indicated the peak period of winds should end about noon Thursday in the Sierra Foothills, North Bay and San Mateo County, and around noon Friday in Kern County
On Tuesday, the utility company cited changing weather conditions and being able to sectionalize certain power lines in reducing the number of customers that might lose power from the original estimate of 209,000.
PG&E said once the winds subside, crews will begin the process of inspecting de-energized lines to check for damage. The utility said its goal was to restore power to “the vast majority of customers within 48 hours” after the winds die down.
All along Highway 29, there are signs that the last pacific gas and electric public safety power shutoff is still seared into memories.
The utility might as well be a four-letter word in the vocabulary of locals.
“Too much money has been spent not taking care things that should be taken care of,” said St. Helena resident Charles Gautreaux. “I’m really angry with the big shots.”
“PG&E, they are just going to pass it on to the consumer. You can’t do anything about it,” said Robert Steen of Napa.
The scope of the PG&E blackouts is much smaller this time, but still a disruption to the Napa County way of life.
Beyond the vineyards and tasting rooms, Zendy Olguin and her family are once again dealing with side effects of the power being pulled.
The lights will stay on in their St. Helena house, but her kids won’t have a classroom to go to Thursday.
She says the trickle-down effect from PG&E’s decision to her life is real.
“That means that either mom or dad have to stay home and watch them because my understanding the boys and girls club is closed too when our power goes out. We can’t take them there either,” said Olguin. “We’re losing school, we’re losing work. We’re losing a lot.”
Hidden Valley Elementary is 1 of 4 @SRCSchools closing early today because of the #PSPS @PGE4Me just confirmed. Maria Carrillo High, Rincon Valley Middle, and Santa Rosa Accelerated Charter School are dismissing kids early, too. These 4 schools are closed Thursday. @KPIXtv pic.twitter.com/H2WfCxLKL3
— Jackie Ward (@JackieKPIX) October 23, 2019
PG&E said it would open a number of community resource centers which will have restrooms, bottled water, electronic-device charging and air-conditioned seating. The following list of resource centers was released, with updates to be posted at www.pge.pspsupdates.