SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on PG&E’s preemptive power shutoffs:
PG&E’s principal meteorologist, Scott Strenfel, says the weekend’s winds could top historical records going back decades. Strenfel told reporters the humidity levels are expected to be low and “bone dry,” mimicking those commonly found in desert regions.
As a result, around 850,000 customers in 36 counties could have their power shut off.
People in the northern Sierra Foothills could lose power as early as 3 p.m. Saturday, with those in the North Bay counties and Mendocino County losing power by 5 p.m. Counties in the Bay Area and southern Sierra Foothills, as well as those along the coast, could lose power by 7 p.m. Kern County customers could lose power by Sunday morning around 11.
The wind is expected to die down by Monday afternoon, according to the vice president of PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program, Sumeet Singh. That’s when the utility hopes to begin inspecting their lines for any damage.
Around 1,000 customers in Sonoma County are still without power as PG&E works with Cal Fire during the Kincade Fire, which has already destroyed dozens of structures.
PG&E is investigating a transmission tower issue that originated near the source of the destructive Sonoma County wildfire. Utility CEO and President Andrew Vesey reports they received an alert about the faulty equipment around 9:20 p.m. and electrical workers were sent to the area, arriving around 90 minutes after they were dispatched. Vesey says when they got there, they were told they could not get through to the transmission tower because of the fire.
Pacific Gas & Electric says up to 2.1 million people in Northern and Central California could lose power in the largest planned power shutoff in the region.
The utility said it has notified about 850,000 customers in 36 counties that it may cut off power between 6 and 10 p.m. Saturday to prevent wildfires. The outages may last until midday Monday.
Forecasters are predicting the strongest winds in years throughout the region.
The shutoff could potentially affect a larger number of people than two weeks ago, when PG&E cut off power to 738,000 customers in 34 counties.
California Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghillarducci is warning Californians to be prepared with supplies because gas stations and grocery stores might lose power.