As California gears up for PG&E’ s unprecedented power shutoff, Santa Clara County leaders today declared a local state of emergency.
Approximately 38,250 South Bay customers—or about 100,000 individuals in all—are expected to be impacted by the utility giant’s first-ever Public Safety Power Shutoff, which is being done in a few-dozen Northern California counties to reduce wildfire risk.
Lights in San Jose and neighboring cities were expected to go off at noon today, but an hour into the anticipated shutoff, PG&E officials said the blackout would actually occur sometime in the afternoon or as late as 8pm.
#PSPS UPDATE: Due to changing weather conditions, the shutoff has been delayed and will begin today at 8 p.m. continuing through the Red Flag Weather Conditions for 24-hours. Currently, @PGE4Me does not know when power will be restored, but the outage could last up to seven days. pic.twitter.com/W9tBuJQncN
— Santa Clara County (@SCCgov) October 9, 2019
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, David Flamm, the deputy director of the county's office of emergency management, said that they wanted to ensure they were “properly postured” and “placing the right gravity” on the situation.
“We do an emergency proclamation here at the county whenever we see an event that looks like it could require aid,” Flamm said. “[It’s a] recognition that we’re potentially going to have over 100,000 individuals without power for a number of days and not knowing the exact duration of the event and not knowing how that could ... be potentially impacting our services.”
County Counsel James Williams said the proclamation gives the ability to “mobilize” resources more flexibly.
“We have big swaths of the county that don’t have a lot of population, but they’re very expansive areas that people may travel through,” he said. “We just don’t know what that’s going to look like with an extended power shutoff in terms of things like cell phone reception, lighting, security and other needs. We need to be fully ready to deal with that.”
The East Valley Health Center in Alum Rock, Reid-Hillview Airport and a county probation branch in Morgan Hill are all expected to be de-energized. County officials, however, say they are ready with backup generators.
Flamm also said that they’ve been notified of multiple reports where PG&E’s “field level staff” were met with “aggression.” KTVU reported earlier today that the company erected barriers in front of PG&E’s San Francisco headquarters to protect employees.
PG&E put up barricades at SF HQ. pic.twitter.com/MLGVVJ0QmI
— Christien Kafton (@CKaftonKTVU) October 9, 2019
“We’re not promoting, and in fact, are doing what we can to mitigate any aggression to the PG&E staff in the field working,” Flamm said. “Those folks are doing the best they can in the field to mitigate any potential additional impacts from this.”
The local emergency declaration will be in effect for the duration of the power shutoff and must be ratified by the county Board of Supervisors within seven days.