Napa County and the North Bay are again facing the prospect of a Pacific Gas and Electric safety power shutdown at mid-week, two weeks after an earlier event cut off electricity to 32,000 Napa County customers for two or more days.
The company said it activated its Emergency Operations Center at 6 p.m. Sunday night to monitor a potentially strong and dry offshore wind event Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
PG&E is considering proactively turning off power for safety in 17 counties in the North Bay and Sierra Foothills. The utility said it would be providing update several times a day as the weather forecast becomes clearer.
The weather risk is forecast to last about 18 to 24 hours, from Wednesday evening through mid-day Thursday, PG&E said.
On Monday morning, the National Weather Service said drier, warmer weather was arriving in the Bay Area, creating "critical to near-critical fire weather conditions."
If there is a shutoff this week, it is expected to be significantly smaller in terms of scope and impact than the mid-October event that left 738,000 customers in Northern and Central California in the dark for two to three days, PG&E said.
That shutoff, unprecedented in scope, created economic losses for businesses that were forced to close and households that lost perishables, while disrupting the daily lives of households.
Napa County officials criticized the utility, questioning the length of the shutoff and the process for determining who lost power and who didn't.
PG&E did its own postmortem, saying in newspaper ads that the shutoff had resulted in "zero catastrophic fires" in its service area although winds had exceeded 50 mph in 15 counties, including 77 mph in Sonoma County.
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Before restoring power, crews found more than 100 instances of damage and hazards due to high winds, PG&E said.
Portions of counties that may be impacted by a potential power shutoff this week include Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Joaquin, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Yolo and Yuba.
As part of preparedness efforts, PG&E is asking customers to:
• Update your contact information at www.pge.com/mywildfirealerts or by calling 1-866-743-6589 during normal business hours. PG&E will use this information to alert customers through automated calls, texts, and emails, when possible, prior to, and during, a Public Safety Power Shutoff.
• Plan for medical needs like medications that require refrigeration or devices that need power.
• Identify backup charging methods for phones and keep hard copies of emergency numbers.
• Build or restock your emergency kit with flashlights, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash.
• Keep in mind family members who are elderly, younger children and pets. Information and tips including a safety plan checklist are available at pge.com/wildfiresafety.
Additional tips on the safe use of generators can be found at PG&E’s Safety Action Center at www.safetyactioncenter.pge.com