In another fit of déjà vu, the legally embattled power company might perform more preemptive power outages this week in the wake of predicted strong winds and dry ground conditions.
As initially reported by ABC 7, PG&E is saying it could turn off power to parts of the Bay Area and Wine Country this week, citing that strong winds and parched fuel conditions. As of now, the bankrupt utility company is listing both Wednesday and Thursday this week as having "elevated" fire risk, per their Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) graphing.
The affected areas, according to this press release, include parts of 19 counties, including several in the North Bay. That list: Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo and Yuba counties. The shutoffs could hit up to 250,000 PG&E customers this time around. Update: Add Alameda and Contra Costa counties to that list.
PG&E describes elevated statuses as "upcoming [events] ([periods] of gusty winds, dry conditions, heightened risks) which are being monitored for increased potential for a PSPS event”; a PSPS event is normally conducted with 72 hours after account holders are notified of an impending shutoff.
According to PG&E's website, they’re still not 100-percent certain that these blackouts will be necessary, though because of the “considerable uncertainty regarding the strength, timing and humidity levels” of an incoming mid-week weather system, the option is still on the table. The company’s cautionary full statement can be read below, courtesy of PG&E's Weather Awareness page:
A strong north or northeast wind event is expected to develop on Wednesday and into Thursday this upcoming week generally affecting the northern half of the PG&E territory. There is still considerable uncertainty regarding the strength, timing and humidity levels with this system. Expect some changes in the forecast moving forward. Nonetheless, there is a chance the gusty winds will result in critical fire weather conditions and zones 2, 3, 4 and 5 are in Elevated status for Wednesday and Thursday. The PG&E Emergency Operations Center is activated to monitor and prepare for the event.
PG&E is expected to update these PSPS statuses as the week goes on and those weather patterns are better understood. This news, too, comes at the heels of some account holders reporting they were billed for electrical use during past PSPS events.