Starting summer 2019, PG&E may proactively shutoff power to their distribution and transmission lines in an effort to prevent their equipment from starting wildfires. These events are known as PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS).
As many distribution and transmission lines powering Sonoma and Mendocino counties are located in wildfire prone areas, PG&E PSPS events could impact a large part of our community. PG&E recommends preparing for power outages that could last more than 3 days.
According to PG&E, a Public Safety Power Shutoff will only be done when the most extreme fire danger conditions are forecasted to help reduce the likelihood of an ignition.
No single factor drives a Public Safety Power Shutoff as each situation is unique. PG&E reviews a combination of many criteria when determining if power should be turned off for safety.
These factors generally include, but are not limited to:
PG&E encourages residents and businesses to be aware of the potential for PSPS events and follow PG&E steps to prepare for multi-day power outages.
Extreme weather threats can change quickly. PG&E’s goal, dependent on weather, is to provide customers, communities, critical service providers and public safety authorities with advance notice prior to turning off power. PG&E will also provide updates until power is restored.
PSPS events may be cancelled by PG&E if forecasted weather conditions improve. In that event, PG&E would notify customers that forecasted weather conditions have improved in their area and they are not planning to turn off their electricity.
Please note: There is no advance notice when PG&E needs to turn off power at the request of a state or local agency due to an active wildfire or other emergency response situation.
Potentially Impacted Areas
The most likely distribution and transmission electric lines to be considered for shutting off for safety will be those that pass through areas that have been designated by the CPUC as at elevated (Tier 2) or extreme (Tier 3) risk for wildfire.
Customers in SCP’s service territory have two major sets of transmission lines that could impact a large number of customers if one or both were to be de-energized. Although a customer may not live or work in a high fire-threat area, their power may be shut off if their community relies upon a power line that runs through an area experiencing extreme fire danger conditions.
The specific area and number of affected customers will depend on forecasted weather conditions and which circuits PG&E decides to turn off for public safety.
If you are a PG&E Medical Baseline customer (dependent on electricity for your medical condition), PG&E has stated they intend to make the following efforts to notify you of a shutoff before it occurs:
If you have medical needs that are dependent on electricity, talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines. Find out how long medication can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific guidance for any medications that are critical for life.
If PG&E has warned of a power shutdown:
If PG&E is planning to turn off your electricity within the next 48 hours, here are some important things to do now:
If your power is out:
PG&E Restoration of Power
After the extreme weather has passed and it is safe to do so, PG&E crews will work to visually inspect the power lines to ensure they are free from damage and safe to energize. Inspections will take place during daylight hours. PG&E expects to be able to visually inspect the system for damage and restore power to most of our customers within 24 to 48 hours after extreme weather has passed.
Ways to Prepare
Create an emergency plan that accounts for all family members and pets, especially those with medical or transportation needs, and practice it. For more information, see PG&E’s emergency plan recommendations. PG&E asks customers to consider the following:
PG&E also recommends making an emergency supply kit that will last for a seven day power shutoff. PG&E has guidance for how long food will last in your refrigerator and freezer.
Interested in backup power sources? If you have rooftop solar, your panels will probably NOT work during a power outage unless you have a special inverter or battery storage. Inquire with your solar provider. If you have a generator, protect yourself and your family by viewing PG&E's webpage about generator safety.