Waiting for power: PG&E’s restoration process

PG&E Power Shutoffs

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Thousands in the Bay Area remain without power Thursday due to PG&E’s planned public safety power shutoffs.

What Happened

The utility company says it cut power to about 1.5 million California residents to prevent power lines from toppling to the ground and sparking potential fires.

PG&E said its second phase of power outages is complete after cutting off power late Wednesday to more than 140,000 customers in the Bay Area alone.

Officials had intentionally blacked out about 730,000 homes and businesses Wednesday in Northern and Central California.

At this time PG&E does not have an estimated time of restoration for customers without power in the Bay Area.

In an interview with the KRON4 Morning News, Melissa Subbotin with PG&E said the utility company’s primary focus right now is restoring power to Humboldt County.

Right now in Humboldt County power has already been restored to around 127,000 customers, Subbotin said.

Was It Necessary?

PG&E says its Wildfire Safety Operations Center team monitors weather conditions and decides whether or not these power shutoffs will happen.

Officials said this is done “in the interest of public safety and when extreme weather conditions align.”

In this instance, for example, officials said they saw forecasted strong winds along with dry vegetation, low humidity, and the Red Flag Warning issued by the National Weather Service, along with significant fire potential.

Officials then assess which service areas may be impacted and thus identified 34 total counties that would be affected.

Officials said the number of affected counties was narrowed down and they analyzed which counties would be most severely impacted by the “widespread severe wind event” and did their best to “only include those customers within those zones.”

Subbotin said while more than 700,000 PG&E customers were affected by the blackout, it serves 15 million total customers in the state.

What’s Next

Officials say it’s basically a waiting game right now as crews remain on standby due to severe winds in the area.

PG&E said crews conduct patrols during daylight hours and only when it is safe to do so, in order to determine which areas are safe to turn power back on.

Once the severe wind event has passed and it is determined safe to conduct patrols, PG&E crews will inspect pole lines and conduct on-foot and aerial assessments.

Per PG&E representatives, over 2,400 miles of transmission lines and 24,000 miles of distribution lines must be inspected.

Once officials are able to determine there are no damages or repairs necessary, only then can crews begin to restore power.

PG&E said 6,000 are on standby to conduct the patrols and the restoration effort, along with 45 helicopters to conduct aerial assessments.

PG&E said it will be providing another update this afternoon with the latest information on restoration times.

PG&E also provided the below links to see what their Emergency Operations Center looks like:

Check back for updates.

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