PG&E may shut off power to more than 300,000 customers in California due to wind starting Wednesday

PG&E Power Shut Off
Posted at 6:41 AM, Nov 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-19 07:41:36-05

(CNN) -- PG&E is warning customers that they may have to shut off power in 25 counties due to a strong offshore wind this week.

More than 300,000 California residents could be impacted by a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS)as winds pick up Wednesday morning and last until Thursday morning, a release from the utility said.

The areas affected are the Sierra Foothills, North Valley and North Bay. Other parts of the Bay Area are not expected to be included, according to the release.

"High fire-risk conditions are expected to begin early Wednesday morning and continue into Thursday. High winds are currently expected to subside Thursday mid-morning," the press release says.

PG&E meteorologists are monitoring and currently anticipate sustained winds of up to 25 mph and gusts ranging from 30-50 mph. Fire weather watches have been issued in the service area because vegetation is extremely dry and temperatures are 5-15 degrees above average, the release said.

On Monday afternoon, around 39,000 PG&E customers in the areas of Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Mateo were notified of a possible shutoff. Earlier in the day 264,000 customers were told that they were at risk of having their power shut off as a precaution, the release said.

The utility began implementing PSPS this fire season to mitigate fires caused by power equipment. The practice cuts electricity to avoid causing fires during high winds and dry conditions.

PG&E serves about 5 million electric customers statewide and rolling outages have impacted several areas so far this fire season.

In October, PG&E cut off power to almost 800,000 customers in Northern California to lower the risk of wildfires. The shutoff cost the city of San Jose at least a half a million dollars.

PG&E announced it had reached an $11 billion settlement with insurance companies for claims stemming from the devastating 2017 and 2018 wildfires in Northern California in September.

In June, the utility paid $1 billion in damages to local governments for blazes linked to its power lines, poles and other equipment.

These planned outages could continue for a decade, PG&E chief executive Bill Johnson said during a California Public Utilities Commission meeting last month.

The utility is working to notify residents 48 hours before a potential shutoff to give them time to prepare, the release said.

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