With high winds, low humidity and dry foliage putting parts of California at risk for more wildfires, PG&E is planning to cut power to 53,000 customers across 24 counties starting Wednesday evening.
PG&E started its Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program last year to reduce the risk of downed or damaged power lines that have sparked deadly wildfires in the past. The first round of power shutoffs will start at 6pm, however, Santa Clara County residents should not expect to lose power until 8pm.
According to a news release from PG&E, 2,210 customers and 103 medical baseline customers in Santa Clara County who live east of Milpitas near the Calaveras Reservoir will be impacted. Once the winds die down—which is expected to happen Friday morning—PG&E will inspect the de-energized power lines to make sure they weren’t damaged.
The utility giant expects that customers impacted by the shutoff should have their lights back on by 10pm on Friday as long as the weather forecast doesn’t change.
PG&E will be opening Community Resource Centers across the state for residents who lose power. The Faith Lutheran Church in Los Gatos will act as the designated resource center for Santa Clara County.
It will be open from 5pm to 10pm tonight and from 8am to 10pm for the remainder of the shutoff. At the resource center, residents will have access to restrooms, hand-washing stations, medical equipment charging stations, WiFi, bottled water, grab-and-go bags and non-perishable snacks.
Last year’s PSPS was much more widespread. In San Jose, 20,000 customers, or approximately 60,000 residents, lost power in the Alum Rock Foothills, Evergreen and South San Jose. City officials estimated the shutoff cost San Jose nearly $500,000 due to overtime costs for staff, supplies and more. That week, approximately 150 employees clocked 3,000 hours in the field because of the outage.
Since then, PG&E says they’ve improved the program and infrastructure with better “meteorology forecasting and guidance tools, sectionalizing and temporary generation to energize microgrids, substations and critical facilities and enabling local generation facilities to serve local customers.”
“These efforts will keep the power on for approximately 12,750 safe-to-energize customers who would have otherwise lost power due to transmission-level outages during this PSPS event,” PG&E’s news release said.
To see if you’re impacted by the shutoff, visit pgealerts.alerts.pge.com/updates.