By Betty Yu

LIVERMORE (CBS SF/KPIX) — Pacific Gas and Electric is alerting of possible new Public Safety Power Shutoffs this week in the Bay Area and Northern California.

The utility’s Emergency Operations Center is preparing for a potential Diablo Wind event across Northern California, with a new PSPS watch for several geographic zones in the state, PG&E said Monday.

The high winds and dry conditions means PG&E is proactivity turning off power for thousands of Bay Area customers, beginning Wednesday.

Customers have begun receiving Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) alerts Monday via text, email and automated phone call – giving them 48 hours notice.

The utility says its goal is to return most customers within 12 daylight hours.

“That year that we had two shutoffs, we weren’t prepared, didn’t have a generator, so I went out and got a generator that evening,” said Livermore resident Tom Mora. “It was off for almost two days, and you know we have freezers full of food.”

This year, Mora is prepared.

PG&E announced Monday evening that it expects to shut off power to 19 counties in Northern California including six in the Bay Area. About 50,000 customers could be affected.

In the Bay Area, the utility said as of Tuesday afternoon the outages could impact 494 customers in Alameda County, 608 in Contra Costa, 4,491 in Napa, 245 in Santa Clara, 53 in Solano and 995 customers.

Livermore’s Mayor John Marchand says the city has been preparing for such emergencies for years.

“We were severely impacted during the power failures, during the lightning storms, the high heat, the lightning storms. So we’re learning to be more resilient, we’re using a lot of solar, we’ve got emergency generators in place,” said Marchand.

He says the city has been able to maintain services without interruption through past shutoffs.

“I have a motor home, fire that up if I have to. It’s got a generator, so I’m okay, you know watch out for my neighbors,” said Livermore resident Glenn Melanson.

The high fire risk conditions were expected to arrive Wednesday evening and continue through Friday morning.

A seven-day PSPS forecast indicates potential outages beginning on Wednesday in counties close to the Oregon border, extending to North Bay and East Bay counties Thursday and Friday with highest probability in the North Bay mountains and near Mt. Diablo. Other regions under the PSPS Watch included the Northern Sacramento Valley and adjacent elevated terrain, and the Northern Sierra Nevada generally north of I-80, PG&E said.

The PSPS watch was based on Monday weather forecasts and PG&E said it would have more clarity on potential cities and counties impacted in the next 24-48 hours.

Last week, more than 40,000 people in 24 counties lost power because of the PSPS event initiated because of high winds combined with low humidity and severely dry vegetation. The same conditions prompting the National Weather Service to issue a new Red Flag Warning in the Bay Area from 11 p.m. Monday through Wednesday at 8 a.m. with the highest threat including the Napa County mountains and northeastern Sonoma County.

 

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