This morning, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) electric crews will start patrolling in the air, in vehicles and on foot nearly all the power lines that were de-energized starting on Monday for the Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event. Once lines are inspected and found free of damage or hazards, PG&E can proceed with restoring power to customers.
More than 3,000 PG&E personnel will patrol and inspect some 10,750 miles of transmission and distribution power lines today, which is equivalent to travelling from San Francisco to Tokyo and back.
Patrols start when the severe weather has subsided enough to make it “all clear” for crews on foot and in aircraft to do inspections of lines.
Restoration for the vast majority of customers impacted by this PSPS event is expected to be completed by the end of the day Wednesday.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the “all clear” was given for portions of four counties. PG&E meteorologists confirmed the “all clear” for many other counties overnight, meaning ground and helicopter inspections will start at daylight today. The “all clear” for portions of a few remaining counties is expected around 9 a.m. this morning.
Restoration may be delayed for some customers if crews are required to fix significant damage to individual lines, which could be caused by wind-blown branches and other debris. Also, restoration could be slowed if there is too much smoke from nearby fires to permit safe air inspections by PG&E’s helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.
This PSPS decision was necessary because of the significant fire risk posed by the dry, hot weather with very strong winds and dry vegetation. The shutoff impacted approximately 172,000 customers in portions of 22 counties: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Humboldt, Kern, Lake, Lassen, Mariposa, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne and Yuba.
Within the PSPS-affected area, PG&E weather stations registered 40 to 60 mph wind speeds overnight Monday with reports of 66 mph wind gusts in the Northern Sierras. These Diablo winds are strong enough to break tree limbs, blow them into power lines, and cause rapid fire spread. Here are the top wind gusts in five counties during the PSPS event.
Wind Gust Speed
Time / Date
9/8 10:13 a.m.
9/8 12:18 p.m.
9/8 9:50 p.m.
Santa Fe Geothermal
9/8 11:52 a.m.
9/8 11:20 a.m.
PG&E is making PSPS events shorter in duration this year by deploying more PG&E and contractor crews to inspect equipment and restore service. For this event, we have 60 helicopters, one airplane, and more than 3,000 skilled workers available to perform inspections and service restoration to more than 10,000 line-miles of PG&E’s infrastructure, performing inspections and ready to make repairs.
PG&E will strive to inspect and restore power within 12 daylight hours of the weather “all clear.” But given the significance of this high-wind event with gusts as high as 66 mph, crews may find significant damage to facilities, requiring additional time and resources for repair.
PSPS for Safety
To support customers in the affected areas, PG&E continues to have available Community Resource Centers (CRCs) in 52 locations where community members can access resources and keep their families and their communities safe. Further information on the CRCs can be found at www.pge.com/crc.
Smaller, Shorter, Smarter PSPS events
PG&E never wants to conduct a Public Service Power Shutoff, and only does so as a last resort in order to protect public safety under very high fire threat conditions. PG&E has learned from past PSPS events, and this year aims to make PSPS events smaller in size, shorter in length, and smarter for customers.
- Smaller in Size: This year, PG&E expects to reduce the number of customers affected by each PSPS event as compared to 2019, by:
- Installing approximately 600 devices that limit the size of outages so fewer communities are without power.
- Using temporary generation and microgrids to keep the electricity on for some individual communities and critical facilities.
- Placing lines underground in targeted locations.
- Using better weather monitoring and forecasting technology and installing new weather stations to more precisely identify areas facing the highest fire risk.
- Shorter in Length: To make events shorter, PG&E expects to restore customers twice as fast, restoring power to nearly all customers within 12 daylight hours after severe weather has passed, by:
- Using weather monitoring tools to identify smaller areas where fire risk weather has abated, so those can get the “all clear” earlier.
- Expanding its helicopter fleet for faster daytime patrols and using new airplanes with infrared equipment to inspect some lines at night.
- Smarter for Customers: To make events smarter for customers, PG&E is:
- Providing more information and resources to customers through an improved website with higher bandwidth and expanded Call Center capabilities.
- Providing earlier, more detailed customer notifications in seven languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Korean and Russian). In addition, on pge.com/disabilityandaging, resources are available in 13 languages.
- Opening Community Resource Centers and working with local agencies and critical service providers to provide local comfort services to affected customers and communities.
- Providing more assistance before, during, and after a PSPS event by working with community-based organizations to support customers with medical needs and making it easier for eligible customers to join and stay in the Medical Baseline program.
- Working closely with state, county, tribal, and community leaders and organizations to help them anticipate and prepare for PSPS events and the impacts those will have upon our citizens, customers and neighbors.
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 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com and www.pge.com/news.