PG&E just announced that it will be keeping power flowing to Napa, Sonoma, and Lake counties today, though as the hot, dry weather is expected to continue tomorrow and Wednesday, they're not totally in the clear.
The utility, currently in bankruptcy over two devastating years of wildfires in a row that it is primarily implicated in sparking, announced this summer that it would be addressing wildfire risks this fire season by strategically shutting off power to the most fire-prone areas of Northern California. That announcement drew some pushback from politicians who believe PG&E will be causing other potential public safety risks, especially in urban areas, by causing extended blackouts.
Now that we are in the thick of fire season with extra-hot conditions around the Bay, PG&E warned everyone last week that these blackouts may start Monday. As the Chronicle reports, an apparent lack of wind has gotten areas of Sonoma, Lake, and Napa counties off the hook, but areas in the Sierra foothills are going see their power go off today.
The company's leadership decided Monday afternoon that around 21,000 customers in Butte, Yuba, and Nevada counties will lose power at 5 p.m. These include the towns of Nevada City, Oroville, Marysville, Grass Valley, and others. The power may remain off in these areas through Tuesday as well.
As of this morning, the county that was expected to see the most homes and businesses potentially without power was Sonoma, with an estimated 33,000 customers to be affected. This online tool allows people to enter their addresses and see if they will be affected.
The utility warned that residents of El Dorado, Lake County, Sutter, Napa, Placer, and Sonoma counties "should remain on standby for a possible weather event on Tuesday, September 24."
The weather pattern being monitored, as the Chronicle reports, begins at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. A similar pattern in Butte, Yuba, and Nevada counties is developing this evening and will peak at around 8 p.m., with risk fading around 9 a.m. tomorrow.
If more outages occur, PG&E has promised to open "community resource centers" in the affected areas where people can charge electronic devices, get free bottled water, and rest in air conditioned comfort.