OAKLAND (CBS SF) — PG&E officials said they took six counties in and around the Bay Area off the planned power shutoff list because weather conditions have “trended favorably,” despite the fact that the weather forecast has not changed much.
“Customers in six other counties, originally notified that they would be part of the PSPS, have now been notified that they will not lose power, as weather conditions improved,” read a statement later issued by PG&E. “Those counties no longer impacted are: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Mateo. These customers will be contacted by PG&E via text, email or automated phone call to confirm that they will not be impacted by the PSPS.”
City and county officials in several areas had already made announcements after being informed by the utility that changing weather forecasts were altering the projected PSPS.
“What we’ve been seeing in the last couple of model runs in the East Bay and Santa Cruz mountains is that relatively humidity is trending higher,” said Scott Strenfel, a PG&E Meteorologist.
“So that has that effect of not only decreasing our potential fire index but it’s also decreasing the amount of recovery in those fuels, those dead fuels. And that’s those fuels that could actually ignite and carry a fire. So although it may look like a little bit of change to someone just looking at the weather, you have to consider the state of the fuels as well.”
The Alameda County Office of Emergency Services tweeted the announcement shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday.
— Alameda County Office of Emergency Services (@AlamedaCoAlert) November 19, 2019
Alameda County officials said additional information would be issued in an alert.
Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia said his constituents have mixed feelings about their reprieve.
“Obviously, we’re glad that there’s no power shutoff, but it’s really not cause for celebration because we’re living under this continual threat of power outages that disrupt business and government and schools,” Gioia said. “It’s costly.”
Gioia said folks in his county are relieved, but in some cases, it’s costing people a lot of money. Businesses are having to buy generators, for example.
“This is unacceptable to have the fifth largest economy in the world go through continual threats of power outages during this time of year,” Gioia said.
Novato officials also announced that PG&E informed the City of Novato and the Novato Police Department Tuesday morning the potential Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event was not expected to impact Novato residents.
As information from PG&E is subject to change without warning due to unpredictable weather, Novato officials asked that residents stay prepared regardless of the announcement.
Moraga police issued a Tuesday afternoon news release stating that “the anticipated weather pattern has changed to the extent that the shutoff is no longer needed in our area.”
Likewise, the Lafayette police put out a similar news statement.
Earlier Tuesday, officials in the Lamorinda area of Contra Costa County announced that the PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff that was set for Wednesday morning would likely be delayed to the afternoon because of changing weather conditions, authorities said.
Orinda officials put out an advisory late Tuesday morning saying PG&E had notified them that the shutoff was being delayed from a scheduled 9 a.m. Wednesday start to 1 p.m.
PG&E has not officially confirmed the delayed start of the shutoff, which is meant to prevent the utility’s equipment from sparking wildfires.
PG&E said customers can use an online address lookup tool to find out if their location is being monitored for the potential safety shutoff at pge.com/pspsupdates.
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About 264,000 PG&E customers across 22 counties in California are expected to be affected by the shutoff, including parts of Contra Costa, Alameda, Marin, Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties.
At 9 p.m. Monday, PG&E added 39,000 customers in portions of Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties to the list of those potentially affected, based on the changing weather forecast.
The shutoff is expected to last into Thursday and would be the sixth undertaken this year by PG&E during dry, windy weather. The utility filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, citing billions of dollars in expected liability for wildfires in 2017 and 2018.