Approximately 98,000 residents and 1,900 businesses in San Jose could be without power for the next few days, according to city officials.
PG&E’s second planned power outage of the month in the South Bay is expected to start tonight as high winds kick up and subject the area to a heightened fire risk. The wind event is predicted to last through Monday, but the power could be out longer as PG&E has to inspect its infrastructure before flipping the lights back on. The utility giant has warned that it could take as long as another five to seven days after the wind dissipates.
In San Jose, the eastern foothills and southern parts of the city could be impacted, according to authorities who gave an update this morning at a press conference.
“We estimated last time there were on the larger boundary up to 180,000 people effected,” Deputy City Manager Kip Harkness said. “As we’ve done our estimates, looking in more tightly at it, we see fewer people impacted in the Alum Rock neighborhood for example and a little bit more people impacted in the Berryessa area.”
Just like last time, San Jose will be opening community resource centers where residents will have access to information, charging stations, water, light snacks and Spanish and Vietnamese interpretation. The four resource centers, which are the Berryessa, Evergreen, Camden and Southside community centers, will open at noon on Saturday.
Mayor Sam Liccardo, who last week announced that he wanted to buy PG&E out of its infrastructure, emphasized that the power shutoffs cannot be the way California continues to operate.
“In addition to this being very disruptive in the lives of our residents, it’s extremely disruptive to the lives of our employees,” he said. “It’s just a lot of work obviously to ensure that people have the information they need. We’ll continue to do this as long as we need to ... but obviously this can’t be the new normal. We need to find better solutions.”
City officials estimated that the last shutoff cost San Jose more than half a million dollars in resources and staffing time.
“Obviously this is very frustrating for us all as we’re having to deal with this and certainly it's part of a bigger conversation with PG&E and their role,” City Manager Dave Sykes added. “Nonetheless, I do have a lot of confidence in our power vulnerability plan. We’ve been planning for months for this type of scenario.”
Residents in the impacted areas are encouraged not to drive as street lights and traffic signals may be out. If you have to drive, treat every signal as a full and complete stop.
City officials expect that water, sewer systems and waste water treatment will all be unaffected by the outage. Garbage and recycling pick-up will also continue as normal, but there could be delays due to traffic signal outages.
Harkness said that they’ve made improvements to their plan since the last outage, which occurred in early October. San Jose will be taking a “three-pronged approach” to the blackout by making sure all medical baseline customers are notified, supporting the county to make sure all medical facilities are notified and knocking on doors and putting up fliers to notify the city's most vulnerable populations.
You can see if your home or work is impacted by inputting you address here.