Businesses, Residents Start Week Without Power Amid PG&E’s Planned Outages

EL DORADO COUNTY -- Pacific Gas and Electric was slowly restoring electricity to some of the 58,000 customers Monday who had been in the dark since the utility purposely cut power late Sunday.

In El Dorado County, dozens of schools were closed until further notice. Public agencies that live in the courthouse in Placerville were out of commission.

The communities that were blacked out were chosen using Public Utility Commission maps, showing the areas most vulnerable to wildfires.

Click through to see a full list of impacted areas, as well as school closures and any updates from PG&E.

It was a downed power line due to high winds that devastated Napa Valley last year. PG&E uses many factors beyond Red Flag Fire Warnings in deciding where to turn the power off.

"Wind speed, humidity, temperatures, on the ground information from crews," said PG&E spokesperson Brandi Merlo.

With 50 mph winds forecasted, PG&E took action. The blackout caught most residents off guard.

"When we went to bed last night we thought it had blown or a tree took it out. It took me this morning to find out they turned it off," said Pollock Pines resident Jeff Myler.

A generator was keeping a Shell Station operating, where some were getting gas for their generators.

"I called this morning and they said it could be out for two to five days and I said, 'Why?'" said resident Patty Crabb.

Residents in the foothills were upset because the winds there were nowhere near 50 mph Monday. Yet, they still did not have their power back.

One resident, who did not want to identify herself, said not only were her kids uneasy but her neighbors were apprehensive as well.

"What about people with no generator? The refrigerator and the food's going to go bad and the freezer, and everything like that," she said.

PG&E said it would not turn on the power until at-risk power lines were inspected by helicopter and ground crews. PG&E says once inspections are done power should be restored to more areas.

"So when we turn the power back on it’s safe to do so," Merlo said.

Planned Outages Impact Businesses

As PG&E's proactive power outages continued throughout the Sierra Foothills, business owners were forced to shut down businesses Monday, waiting for power to be restored.

Placerville Hardware, the oldest hardware store west of the Mississippi, has been in operation since 1854, but Monday morning there was no power.

"I was coming to work this morning, I could see the stop lights were out," said employee David Harrold. "So I could see something was wrong."

Harrold did not know PG&E was turning off the power to the shop.

"Ordinarily, we would be open today. We just can't be, there's no way we could keep people from stumbling around in the dark in here," Harrold told FOX40.

Placerville Hardware is only one of the many businesses affected by the utility company's proactive attempt to reduce the chance of wildfires.

Harrold said people were not inside but they could still do some small shopping.

"Well if they say, 'Hey, I need a pound of this kind of nail.' 'OK, we will get it for you and take your money,'" Harrold said.

But it was a different situation for restaurants like Powell's Steamer Co. and Pub. It is a seafood place, so keeping refrigerators and freezers running is key because if the inventory goes bad that's money down the drain.

"A whole day of money goes down the drain," said Sheila Kelly. "Yeah, it's not good for business at all."

The good news for Kelly was she did not have to wait long. Minutes after speaking with her the lights came back on.

All the power may not be restored for everyone but at least some businesses will not be left hanging in old "Hangtown."