BART pledges that train service will not be interrupted Wednesday and Thursday despite large swaths of the Bay Area being expected to lose power in a PG&E safety shutoff.
BART expects to be able to use a patchwork of portable generators and energy pulled from other parts of its system Wednesday and Thursday if and when certain sections of its tracks — as well as some stations — lose power in the shutoff. As the agency tells the Chronicle, it can draw power from distant portions of its traction power supply system in order to make up for portions of the system that can turned off. And all BART stations are already equipped with emergency lighting systems that run on backup power.
PG&E has said that parts of 29 California counties could see shutoffs beginning early Wednesday due to a dangerous wind system that is supposed to begin tonight and last into Thursday. Dry conditions through much of the state have prompted the unprecedented move, and PG&E issued their warning early on Monday. Seven out of nine Bay Area counties may see shutoffs — all except for San Francisco and Marin counties.
Alameda County is expecting around 35,000 PG&E customers to lose power tomorrow, as the Chronicle reports. And a total of 257,000 Bay Area customers are on alert across seven counties. Shutoffs may begin around 4 a.m. Wednesday, though exact timing has not been confirmed. PG&E said Monday that the danger should be less by mid-day on Thursday, though the length of potential outages is unknown.
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Oakland has prohibited days off for its 750-person police department starting Wednesday, according to the department's public information officer, Johnna Watson.
In addition to Oakland, other cities that may see outages tomorrow include parts of Berkeley, Hayward, Richmond, El Cerrito, Orinda, Lafayette, and Pinole in the East Bay; Calistoga, American Canyon, Vallejo, Petaluma, and large parts of Sonoma County up north; and San Mateo, San Jose, Los Altos, Palo Alto, and Gilroy, as well as much of the area along Highway 1 south of San Francisco.
As San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo tells the Mercury-News, "If this is a short power shutoff, it shouldn’t be serious at all. On the other hand, if it lasts several days, then we should all be concerned."