AUBURN — Tens of thousands of Pacific Gas and Electric customers were standing ready for the possibility of their homes going dark.
The utility company announced over the weekend that around 124,000 customers across nine counties could have their power turned off by Monday afternoon or evening.
“We de-energize the lines for safety. It’s for the safety of the community,” said PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contreras.
PG&E has already put affected customers on alert, warning them that their electricity could possibly stay off for days. On Sunday night, the utility expanded the number of customers that could be impacted during Monday’s anticipated safety power outage to include the following:
- 22,920 customers in Butte County
- 3,640 customers in El Dorado County
- 12,950 customers in Nevada County
- 22,180 customers in Placer County
- 230 customers in Sutter County
- 5,240 customers in Yuba County
- 12,840 customers in Lake County
- 10,500 customers in Napa County
- 33,500 customers in Sonoma County
“If it were to happen, then PG&E will do anything we can to restore power within 24 hours, but it’s all depending on the weather,” Contreras said.
By Sunday, the National Weather Service upgraded their Fire Weather Watch to a Red Flag Warning starting Monday at 1 p.m. and continuing through 11 a.m. Wednesday.
A large swath of Northern California is expected to experience warm temperatures and low humidities, along with high wind gusts that could be between 30 and 50 mph. The NWS expects the foothills and western portions of the valley to have the highest wind gusts and lowest humidity percentages.
PG&E says it will make its final decision about the shutoffs by late Monday morning.
⚠️ The Fire Weather Watch has been upgraded to a Red Flag Warning for parts of the Central Valley, the Coastal Range and the Sierra below 5000 feet. Please avoid outdoor activities that could cause a spark! #cawx pic.twitter.com/8rUuqwJywi
— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) September 22, 2019
Homeowners in Placer County spent the weekend preparing for the Public Safety Power Shutoff.
“I don’t really have a problem with it,” said PG&E customer Amanda Parsons. “We have had some really devastating fires in the past and they’re still trying to rebuild. So, I know it’s an inconvenience to turn off the power but I don’t think it’s the end of the world.”
But other costumers wonder if the shutoffs are really needed.
“I’m skeptical of PG&E,” said Auburn resident Dave Cathcart, “So, I think that they’re likely to shut the power down just to be on the safe side but I don’t know if it’s justified.”
Turning off power makes life harder for people like Auburn resident Jim Powell, who takes care of his wife with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
“We have to minimize the danger, it’s just that maybe when you have to think about people who have disabilities and stuff that maybe have to rely on electricity,” he told FOX40.
Powell planned ahead and bought a generator just in case his lights go out.
“It’s better to be safe than sorry and you could look at it as a drill because we never know what’s going to happen anyway, you know,” Powell said. “I mean look at the Paradise fire. So, maybe it’s better that we do have to put up with a little inconvenience so we can be prepared if something happens.”
PG&E says if power is shut off, 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.
Community resource centers will open during daylight hours starting Tuesday at the following sites if the shutoffs take place. Services at each center will be available for up to 100 customers at a time:
Auburn Gold County Fairgrounds, 1273 High Street, Auburn
Sierra College Grass Valley Campus, 213 and 250 Sierra College Drive, Grass Valley 95945
Taylor’s Restaurant, 3600 Taylor Road, Loomis
Oroville Union High School, 1674 3rd Avenue, Oroville 95965
Oregon House, 9185 Marysville Road, Yuba City
Heads up for those living up in or near the Sierra, there's a chance @PGE4Me may be shutting your power off this week Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday bc of #Wildfire risk. We could see a "Public Safety Power Shutoff" in the areas highlighted on this map @FOX40 pic.twitter.com/3bvamzRebf
— Joe Khalil (@JoeKhalilTV) September 22, 2019