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PG&E warns of safety blackouts in Northern California amid risky wildfire conditions

Rosalio Ahumada, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in News & Features

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — PG&E Corp. warned it might shut off power to thousands of customers in portions of 13 California counties starting Monday morning because of dry wind amid critical fire weather conditions.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. sent notifications on Saturday to the customers who could be affected by this latest Public Safety Power Shutoff “to reduce the risk of wildfire from energized power lines,” according to a company news release. The potential shutoffs include 20 affected PG&E customers in Yolo County.

PG&E is already under investigation in connection with the Dixie fire, which started July 13 and has become the second-largest wildfire in California history. Last week, victims sued Pacific Gas & Electric Co. over damages from the fire. Cal Fire is investigating whether the Dixie fire was sparked by PG&E equipment.

The largest number of PG&E customers who could have their power shut off Monday are in Shasta County with 3,166 customers; Butte County with 2,735; and Tehama County with 2,270.

Sonoma and Napa counties each have more than 1,000 potentially affected PG&E customers. Solano, Colusa, Glenn, Kern, Lake, Mendocino, Santa Barbara each have fewer than 1,000 affected customers. The potential power shutoff could also affect PG&E customers in two tribal areas, including 50 in Grindstone Rancheria and eight in Cortina Rancheria.


On Sunday, PG&E said its meteorologists were continuing to monitor a potential weather system that could bring dry offshore wind and possibly some rain to these affected areas. If the wind arrives without the rain amid “extreme to exceptional drought and extremely dry vegetation,” PG&E officials said they will need to shut off power to these customers.

“The potential shutoffs could begin Monday morning in portions of the North Coast and North Bay; shutoffs in the Northern Sierra foothills and Kern County could begin Monday afternoon, depending on the timing of the wind event,” PG&E said in the news release.

Customers were notified via text messages, emails and automated phone calls. PG&E customers also can also look up their address online to find out if they’re included in the potential power shutoff.

On Sunday, the National Weather Service in Sacramento issued a red flag warning Sunday night through Monday evening for portions of the Sacramento Valley, the coastal range and surrounding foothills. The red flag warning will remain in effect through Tuesday morning in portions of the Sierra Nevada, Southern Cascades and its adjacent foothills.

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