Updated at 9:41 p.m. Monday — Tens of thousands of Napa County PG&E customers, and more than 600,000 across Northern and Central California, could be affected by Public Safety Power Shutoffs that would begin Wednesday morning and may last several days.
PG&E on Monday night announced the potential scale of the shut-off, which would take place at a time of hilltop winds the National Weather Service forecasts may peak at 60 mph. Up to 32,124 customers across most Napa Valley communities may be affected, the utility said in a news release.
Napa County’s Office of Emergency Services first announced the plan Monday afternoon, saying that once PG&E turns off the power Wednesday, the shutdowns “may extend five days or longer.” The areas to be affected by the Public Safety Power Shutoffs were not announced, but could include a large swath of Napa County, according to the county news release.
In its statement, PG&E said a local outage may affect customers in all five of the county’s municipalities – Napa, American Canyon, Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga – as well as those in Lake Berryessa, Oakville, Rutherford, Deer Park, Angwin and Pope Valley.
The hills along the Napa Valley’s east and west sides are considered an “extreme fire threat” on state Public Utilities Commission maps, while rural areas along the county’s eastern borders, including Lake Berryessa, are listed as having an “elevated fire threat.”
Earlier Monday, PG&E noted that “while customers in high fire-threat areas are more likely to be affected by a Public Safety Power Shutoff event, any of PG&E’s more than 5 million electric customers could have their power shut off because the energy system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity across cities, counties and regions.”
The National Weather Service forecasts strong off-shore winds Wednesday morning into Thursday, with potential gusts in excess of 60 mph on the highest ridge peaks and 30 mph gusts in North Bay valleys.
These may be the strongest winds since Oct. 8 and 9, 2017 that contributed to the devastating wildfires in Napa and Solano counties, the National Weather Service said.
This forecast prompted the largest Public Safety Power Shutoff warning since PG&E adopted new procedures after the destructive Northern California wildfires of 2017 and 2018, many of them caused by downed utility lines. Some 30 counties could be affected, PG&E said early Monday, including Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties.
The National Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Watch for vast portions of Northern California for midweek.
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The main period of weather risk is early Wednesday morning through Thursday midday. The dry, windy weather is expected to reach from the northern portions of PG&E’s service territory and down through the Sacramento Valley before spreading into the central areas of the state including most of the Bay Area, the utility said.
Once PG&E issues shutoff notices, a customer can go to https://bit.ly/2mvpeLy to find out if their address is included.
PG&E is asking customers to:
— Update their contact information at 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 printouts 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.
Backup electric generators can be a part of any preparedness plan, but they can also pose unique safety hazards, PG&E said.
It’s important to understand how to safely operate your generator before an emergency occurs. This means doing regular safety checks and being sure you have enough fuel to last a few days. If you don’t understand how to use your generator, you risk damaging your property, endangering your life and those of others, PG&E said.
Position your generator where its exhaust can vent safely to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be fatal. Never run a portable generator in the garage or in the rain, and never store generator fuel in the house.
Additional tips on the safe use of generators can be found at PG&E’s Safety Action Center at www.safetyactioncenter.pge.com.