The messaging game remains fraught with flip-flopping over at PG&E as the company announced Tuesday afternoon that conditions are "changing" and some 12,000 power customers in Alameda County who were told Monday they'd be losing power Wednesday are now not expected to do so.
Also, the company has said it will delay a potential shutoff in the Lamorinda area — the well populated portion of Contra Costa County consisting of Lafayette, Moraga, and Orinda — from Wednesday morning to afternoon, also due to "changing weather conditions," as Bay City News reports.
But has anything actually changed? The original shutoff announcement over the weekend came as forecasts arrived of increased wind gusts starting around 4 a.m. on Wednesday, November 20. Anna Schneider, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, tells the Chronicle Tuesday afternoon, "We have not made any changes on our end," and, "We still have a red-flag warning for the North Bay and East Bay hills, from 4 a.m. Wednesday through 7 a.m. Thursday."
So what gives? And is this going to be another situation where we end up with a fire being sparked despite a PSPS event occurring, as we did with the Kincade Fire last month.
PG&E wouldn't comment on its changed weather outlook, but it said it's made progress in “sectionalizing” its grid, allowing it to better pinpoint smaller areas for shutoffs. Also it said that other factors besides weather like location of power lines, the structure of the grid, and the condition of the equipment in an area contribute to the decision.
Officially, for the Bay Area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Sonoma, Shasta and Santa Cruz, PG&E is now "monitoring" the situation and saying that shutoffs still may be possible — though the Oakland-Berkeley hills customers who heard Monday about possible shutoffs were then informed Tuesday that they would not be losing power.
Does any of this change of plan have to do with the lambasting that PG&E CEO Bill Johnson and others took at the California statehouse on Monday regarding the October shutoffs? Who can say!?
As of now, Tuesday afternoon, PG&E is saying that 171,581 customers are likely to see their power go off tomorrow, down from a previous estimate of 303,000. That cuts the number of potential individuals impacted by about half, to around a half million people.