NEVADA COUNTY -- Pacific Gas and Electric says it has shut off power for approximately 24,000 customers in portions of Butte, Nevada and Yuba counties Monday evening.
“We de-energize the lines for safety. It’s for the safety of the community,” PG&E spokeswoman Deanna Contreras said on Sunday.
Titus Davis was preparing for the worst Monday.
“I can handle, I think, three days if that’s what it turns out to be,” Davis told FOX40.
With two generators and plenty of fuel, he was ready to power his Nevada County home once PG&E turned off his lines.
“It’s obviously inconvenient but we have a lot to lose here,” he said. “You’re comparing the difference between maybe a few days of inconvenience and not having power versus not having anything."
The electric company shut off power starting around 5 p.m., all to prevent electric lines from sparking wildfires like they have in the past.
“We’re looking for gusty winds, dry conditions and that heightened fire threat to really determine whether or not we are going to shut off the power,” said PG&E spokesperson Brandi Merlo.
They expect the outage to last anywhere from 24 to 48 hours.
“Once the all-clear comes in, we’ll send crews out to patrol all of the lines, make any repairs and we’ll start restoring customers,” Merlo said.
PG&E issued a list of affected communities:
- BUTTE COUNTY - Bangor, Berry Creek, Brush Creek, Feather Falls, Forbestown, Hurleton, Oroville, Palermo, Rackerby, Yankee Hill
- NEVADA COUNTY - Grass Valley, Nevada City, Penn Valley, Rough and Ready
- YUBA COUNTY - Bangor, Browns Valley, Brownsville, Camptonville, Challenge, Dobbins, Forbestown, Loma Rica, Marysville, Oregon House, Rackerby, Smartsville
As Schulte braced for the outage, he was wondering whether it is necessary, saying PG&E could have prevented this with proper maintenance.
“Their infrastructure is pretty old and that’s something that they should have been spending money improving over the years instead of just letting it go to save money and make profit,” he said.
With a Red Flag Warning in place across much of Northern California, Cal Fire was getting ready and reminding everyone to have a plan while extra crews were stationed throughout the foothills.
“It’s just a matter of making sure all the pieces are in place,” said Cal Fire Nevada-Yuba-Placer Chief Brian Estes. “Vehicles are fueled and ready to go, you've got a few extra supplies and, most importantly, if the evacuation order comes, get out early.”
It’s advice homeowners like Davis were taking to heart.
“We live out here in the outdoors and we enjoy that a lot. And with the outdoors comes some responsibility to know what to do when things like this happen,” Davis said.
PG&E says affected customers will be alerted shortly beforehand. The company will notify customers through phone calls, email and text messages. Customers can click HERE for more information.
The utility said it will also be watching for another weather event Tuesday evening, which could force more power shutoffs in other counties.
PG&E's lines have been blamed for some of the most devastating wildfires in California history, including 2018's deadly and destructive Camp Fire in Butte County.
Penn Valley Customers in the Dark With Some Asking "Why?"
Shortly after 5 p.m., the power went out in Penn Valley.
Thanks to a large generator, the True Value hardware store was open for business -- and good thing it was. Manager Tammy Buhman said they sold around 20 generators.
“Non-stop people coming in for propane, for generators, for batteries, flashlights,” she told FOX40. “It’s been crazy today.”
By the end of the business day, they had just two left, with more expected to come in a Tuesday morning shipment.
Across the street, the Penn Valley Market was also on generator power but on a limited basis.
They could only accept cash only while owner Happy Singh hooked up the credit card system to Wi-Fi.
“Maybe in 20 minutes, we will have everything ready. People can pay with the cash or card, anything,” Singh said.
You could say ice was a hot item but the freezers and refrigerators had no power. If the power outage lasts longer than 10 hours, everything in the freezers will have to be thrown out.
“If the power doesn’t come back in 10 hours, I believe we’re losing like six to seven thousand dollars,” Singh explained.
PG&E set up a community service center at Sierra College in Grass Valley where people can go during daylight hours Tuesday and plug into electricity.
And at some busy intersections, like Penn Valley Road and Highway 20, Caltrans has hooked up generators to keep the signal lights running.
PG&E began warning about the preemptive outages over the weekend with fire danger in the forecast. When the power actually went out, however, it came as a shock to some in the community.
“I don’t think PG&E needs to do this. It’s an exercise in futility," one Penn Valley man said. "They’re just covering themselves and that’s not right. At the cost of the consumer once again."