Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has turned off power to prevent wildfires during severe weather for the first time in 2020 and the company has adapted its Community Resource Centers (CRCs) to keep customers and communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday night, PG&E initiated a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) affecting approximately 172,000 customers in portions of 21 counties and 7 tribal communities, including: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mariposa, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne and Yuba.
A Public Safety Power Shutoff for the remaining 650 customers in Kern County will begin at approximately 2 p.m. today.
The National Weather Service forecasts that this wind event will last through Wednesday morning, when we expect to begin inspecting our power lines for damage before we turn power back on.
PG&E will open CRCs in every county where PG&E initiates a PSPS. These temporary CRCs will be open to customers when power is out at their homes and will provide ADA-compliant restrooms and hand-washing stations; medical-equipment charging; WiFi; bottled water; and nonperishable snacks.
If you are affected by the current PSPS, you can find a CRC near you, visit pge.com/psps.
COVID-19 Health and Safety Measures at CRCs
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all CRCs are following important health and safety protocols, including:
- Facial coverings and maintaining a physical distance of at least six feet from those who are not part of the same household will be required at all CRCs.
- Temperature checks will be administered before entering CRCs located indoors.
- CRC staff will be trained in COVID-19 precautions and will regularly sanitize surfaces and use Plexiglass barriers at check-in.
- All CRCs will follow county and state requirements regarding COVID-19, including limits on the number of customers permitted indoors at any time.
Besides these health protocols, customers visiting a CRC in 2020 will experience further changes, including a different look and feel. In addition to using existing indoor facilities, PG&E is planning to open CRCs at outdoor, open-air sites. Supplies also will be handed out in grab-and-go bags at outdoor CRCs so most customers can to be on their way quickly.
CRC Resources and Setups Adapted to COVID-19
Here’s a look at the variety of CRCs in use in 2020:
- Outdoor Micro CRCs: These CRCs will be set up under open-air tents often seen at the beach or at children’s soccer games. CRC staff will distribute grab-and-go bags with essential items such as water, snacks, and a PSPS information card with additional PSPS resources including where to find estimated restoration times. On-site charging will be available for medical devices only. An alternative type of tents may be deployed depending upon local conditions.
- Outdoor Mobile CRCs. These CRCs will be set up around a parked commercial van and will offer the same amenities as the Micro CRCs, including grab-and-go bags. On-site charging will be available for medical devices only.
- Indoor CRCs: Located in existing buildings, such as community centers, these air conditioned and heated CRCs will be set up with physically distanced tables and chairs for customers to relax. On-site charging will be available for medical equipment and mobile devices.
“We’ve worked with counties, cities and tribal communities to locate CRCs where it makes the most sense during a PSPS event, and we’ve worked with medical experts to put COVID-19 protections in place for the health and safety of our customers and CRC staff,” said Laurie Giammona, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer for PG&E.
PG&E has sought feedback and is listening to customers and communities about how it can do better, make improvements and take action. Since last year’s wildfire season, PG&E has participated in nearly 200 meetings with state and federal agencies, local emergency managers, local elected leaders, tribal communities and customers to listen, partner and improve. PG&E is continuing to conduct outreach to counties and tribes for coordination meetings, in addition to weekly regional webinars.
Despite the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, PG&E’s work to prevent wildfires and reduce the impact of PSPS events has continued. The company understands the importance of keeping the electricity on, especially given current shelter-at-home orders for communities due to this global pandemic.
PG&E is working hard every day to improve the safety of its electric system and reduce wildfire risks through the Community Wildfire Safety Program. As part of these efforts, PG&E is making PSPS events smaller in size, shorter in length and smarter for customers; installing new grid technology; hardening the electric system; and performing enhanced vegetation management in high fire-threat areas.
To learn more about PG&E’s plans for Community Resource Centers and how the company has worked to improve Public Safety Power Shutoffs, go to www.pge.com/wildfiresafety.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 23,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.