By now we have all heard that PG&E may be shutting off electrical power during times of potential wildfire threat. Here are some details of the program PG&E refers to as Public Safety Power Shutoff.
According to PG&E, a Public Safety Power Shutoff will only be done when the most extreme fire danger conditions are forecast. These factors generally include:
- A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service.
- Low humidity levels, generally 20 percent and below.
- Forecast sustained winds, generally above 25 mph and wind gusts in excess of 45 mph, depending on location and site-specific conditions, such as temperature, terrain, and local climate.
- Condition of dry fuel on the ground and live vegetation moisture content.
- On-the-ground, real-time information from PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Operations Center and field observations from PG&E crews.
The Public Safety Power Shutoff Program has been expanded to include all electric lines that pass through high fire-threat areas—both distribution and transmission lines. While customers in high fire-threat areas are more likely to be affected, any PG&E customer could have their power shut off if their community relies on a line that passes through a high-threat fire area. The most likely electric lines to be shut off for safety will be those that pass through areas that the California Public Utilities Commission has designed as elevated or extreme risk for wildfire.
PG&E’s goal is to provide advance notice prior to turning off power. Timing of customer notifications, when possible:
- 48 hours before power is turned off.
- 24 hours before power is turned off.
- Just before power is turned off.
- During the outage.
- Once power has been restored.
PG&E will attempt to reach customers through telephone calls, texts, and emails using contact information on file. It will also use pge.com and social media and keep local news and radio outlets informed and updated. There will be no advance notice when power is turned off at the request of a state or local agency because of an active wildfire or other emergency response situation. To make sure PG&E has your updated contact information click here or call 1-866-743-6589.
After the wildfire threat or extreme weather condition has passed, and it is safe to do so, PG&E crews will visually inspect power lines to make sure they are free from damage and safe to energize. Inspections will take place during daylight hours, and it could take 24 to 48 hours to have power restored to customers.
PG&E recommends having an emergency plan for shutoffs and provides these tips.
- Update your contact information with PG&E. Link and phone number are above.
- Identify backup charging methods for phones and keep hard copies of emergency numbers.
- Plan for any medical needs like medications that need to be refrigerated or devices that require power.
- Plan for the needs of pets and livestock.
- Build or restock your emergency kit with flashlights, fresh batteries, first aid supplies, and cash.
- Designate an emergency meeting location.
- Know how to manually open your garage door.
- Ensure any backup generators are ready to safely operate.
- Identify the unique needs of family and loved ones in the area.