3 p.m. update

PG&E tweeted that as of 11 a.m., power has been restored to roughly 6,700 customers who were included in the initial power safety shutoffs. 

Power was originally cut-off to 24,000 customers in Northern California as Northern California experienced a Red Flag Warning. 

Update

PG&E cut power to 24,000 northern customers Monday evening as fall brings back dangerous weather conditions and the company tries to head off wildfires sparked by electrical equipment.

The utility shut down power to areas of Butte, Nevada and Yuba counties in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

The power will remain off until conditions are safer, and PG&E warned that it might expand the precautionary outages on Tuesday to El Dorado, Placer, Sutter, Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties if gusty winds and hot, dry weather continue.

Butte County is where a wildfire caused by PG&E transmission lines killed 86 people last year and virtually leveled the town of Paradise.

Meanwhile, Southern California Edison warned it might shut off power to 41,000 customers due to forecasts calling for gusty Santa Ana winds.

The cuts could affect Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Strong winds, low humidity and warm temperatures were forecast in the state through Wednesday, and authorities issued an extreme fire danger warning for some areas.

Wind gusts could reach 50 mph (80 kph) in the northern Sierra and foothills, and between 30 to 40 mph (48 to 64 kph) in the Sacramento Valley and near the Pacific coast, said Eric Kurth, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

"Humidity levels are dropping, and winds are picking up," Kurth said. "The main threat is overnight when the winds pick up in the mountains and foothills."

Some of the most destructive blazes in the state in the past two years were started by PG&E power lines. Winds can knock down live wires and power poles or drive trees and other vegetation into contact with them.

PG&E first cut off power preemptively last October, affecting some 87,000 customers. The move prompted complaints and demands for reimbursement.

But the utility canceled plans to shut off power ahead of the deadly Nov. 8 blaze that started near Paradise.

An investigation by Cal Fire said transmission lines owned and operated by the utility started the fire that wiped out nearly 15,000 homes.

California regulators in May approved allowing utilities to cut off electricity to avoid catastrophic wildfires but said utilities must do a better job ramping up preventive efforts and educating and notifying the public, particularly people with disabilities and others who are vulnerable.

In January, PG&E sought bankruptcy protection, saying it could not afford an estimated $30 billion in potential damages from lawsuits stemming from catastrophic wildfires.

Earlier this month, PG&E agreed to pay $11 billion to insurance companies holding 85% of the claims from fires that include the Paradise blaze.

The settlement, confirmed Monday, is subject to bankruptcy court approval.

It's important for PG&E to pull itself from bankruptcy protection because it will be a big part of a wildfire fund set up to help California's major utilities pay future claims as climate change makes wildfires more frequent and severe.

8 p.m. Update:

California's largest utility began cutting power to 27,500 northern customers Monday evening as fall brings back dangerous weather conditions and the company tries to head off wildfires sparked by electrical equipment.

The utility began shutting down power in Butte, Nevada and Yuba in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

The power will remain off until conditions are safer, and PG&E warned that it might expand the precautionary outages on Tuesday to Sonoma, Napa and Lake counties if gusty winds and hot, dry weather continue.

Butte County is where a wildfire blamed on PG&E transmission lines killed 86 people last year and virtually leveled the town of Paradise.

Meanwhile, Southern California Edison warned it might shut off power to 41,000 customers due to forecasts calling for gusty Santa Ana winds.

The cuts could affect Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Strong winds, low humidity and warm temperatures were forecast in the region through Wednesday, and authorities issued an extreme fire danger warning for some areas.

Wind gusts could reach 50 mph (80 kph) in the northern Sierra and foothills, and between 30 to 40 mph (48 to 64 kph) in the Sacramento Valley and near the Pacific coast, said Eric Kurth, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.

"Humidity levels are dropping, and winds are picking up," Kurth said. "The main threat is overnight when the winds pick up in the mountains and foothills."

Some of the most destructive blazes in the state in the past two years were started by PG&E power lines. Winds can knock down live wires and power poles or drive trees and other vegetation into contact with them.

PG&E first cut off power preemptively last October, affecting some 87,000 customers. The move prompted complaints and demands for reimbursement.

But the utility canceled plans to shut off power ahead of the deadly Nov. 8 blaze that started near Paradise.

An investigation by Cal Fire said transmission lines owned and operated by the utility started the fire that wiped out nearly 15,000 homes.

California regulators in May approved allowing utilities to cut off electricity to avoid catastrophic wildfires but said utilities must do a better job ramping up preventive efforts and educating and notifying the public, particularly people with disabilities and others who are vulnerable.

In January, PG&E sought bankruptcy protection, saying it could not afford an estimated $30 billion in potential damages from lawsuits stemming from catastrophic wildfires.

Earlier this month, PG&E agreed to pay $11 billion to insurance companies holding 85% of the claims from fires that include the Paradise blaze.

The settlement, confirmed Monday, is subject to bankruptcy court approval.

It's important for PG&E to pull itself from bankruptcy protection because it will be a big part of a wildfire fund set up to help California's major utilities pay future claims as climate change makes wildfires more frequent and severe.

6 p.m. update: 

Pacific Gas & Electric has begun shutting off power to customers in Butte, Nevada and Yuba counties as part of their Public Safety Power Shutoff plan (PSPS).

More than 27,000 customers are expected to be impacted by the shutoffs, PG&E said in an update around 6 p.m. 

The shutoffs are triggered when weather conditions create an increased risk for wildfires. In their announcement about the impending shutoffs, PG&E said it will take “several hours” to complete the shutoffs.

Power will remain off until weather conditions improve, according to PGE. Even after conditions improve, crews will have to inspect all of the powerlines in the affected area to determine if it is safe to restore power.

Tap here to see the full map of the area impacted by the current shutoffs.

A spokesperson for PG&E told ABC10 the company will not provide reimbursements for losses their customers incur during the shutoffs, such as spoiled food, because they have given customers advanced notice and because the shutoffs are being initiated due to public safety.

PG&E power shutoffs 9/23
Pacific Gas & Electric

1 p.m. update:

Pacific Gas & Electric has reduced the number of potential customers impacted by power shut offs from 214,000 to 21,000. 

Residents in Butte, Nevada, and Yuba Counties should still plan for shut offs, while El Dorado, Placer, and Sutter Counties should not expect their power to be turned off. 

The utility company also canceled a warning affecting three wine country areas: Napa, Sonoma and Lake counties.

The utility says it still expects a shut off for areas of the Sierra Foothills starting at 5 p.m. Some of the devastating blazes in the past two years were started by Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. power lines.

Strong winds, low humidity and warm temperatures were forecast in the region through Wednesday.

Original story:

Nearly 124,000 Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) utility customers across nine counties are being put on alert for the potential for power shutoffs beginning Monday evening.

Under alert are Butte, El Dorado, Lake, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Sonoma, Sutter, and Yuba counties. The San Francisco-based utility is expected to make a decision Monday on whether controlled power outages are needed to reduce the risk of wildfires. It released a map of the areas affected by the “Public Safety Power Shutoff” (PSPS) event.

“We’ve activated our emergency operations center in San Francisco and we started contacting about 68,000 customers in six counties in the Sierra foothills Saturday night to let them know that we may be shutting off their power Monday evening,” PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contreras told ABC10 early Sunday afternoon.

Around 9:30 p.m., PG&E officials expanded the area for potential power shutoffs to include three extra counties (Lake, Napa, and Sonoma counties), nearly doubling the number of affected customers from approximately 68,000 to approximately 124,000.

Read more about PG&E’s tips on how to prepare for a power shutoff.

Potential Power Shutoff areas 9/22
Nearly 69,000 PG&E customers across six counties are being put on alert for the potential for power shutoffs.
PG&E

In their notice, PG&E said areas of the Sierra foothills are facing elevated fire risk. If a power shutoff were to take place, it would most likely happen between 7 p.m. on Monday to 6 a.m. Tuesday, PG&E officials said.

“We ask our customers to be prepared for an extended outage, but PG&E will do everything it can to restore power within 24 hours. It’s all dependent on the weather,” Contreras said.

In the event of a power shutoff event, PG&E crews would have to inspect every section of de-energized power line to ensure that it was safe to restore power. That could mean power remains off for the affected areas for days. 

According to PG&E, if power is shut off, full restoration could take until 6 a.m. on Thursday.

“It’s all weather dependent. We can’t really start restoring power until the heightened fire risk is gone; until the weather has moved out of the area. So, that’s why we tell people to be prepared for an extended outage possibly lasting longer than 24, 48 hours,” Contreras explained.

Auburn Fire Chief Dave Spencer has been in direct communication with PG&E ahead of the potential Public Safety Power Shutoff.

If PG&E does a public safety power shutoff, they must then inspect all of their lines before turning them back on, Spencer said. This could take quite a bit of time beyond any weather that could spark a fire.

The Auburn Fire Department is urging folks to have batteries charged, medications organized, and prepare your home in the event of an outage.

“It’s my responsibility to make sure that our community is notified and is well prepared," Spencer said. "And We’ve been working on that for quite some time."

Tap here for a look at the PSPS announcement and shutoff map.

PG&E listed the affected communities with the total number of customers affected below:

  • Butte County: 22,915 (including 1,775 medical baseline customers)
  • El Dorado County: 3,639 (including 184 medical baseline customers)
  • Lake County: 12,840
  • Napa County: 10,500
  • Nevada County: 12,949 (including 642 medical baseline customers)
  • Placer County: 23,702 (including 979 medical baseline customers)
  • Sonoma County: 33,500
  • Sutter County: 229 (including 4 medical baseline customers)
  • Yuba County: 5,239 (including 333 medical baseline customers)
Power Shutoffs N2K 1
Tegna

Community resource centers will be opened on Tuesday to offer support to customers in communities whose power might be shut off, PG&E said. 

Officials said that the centers will only be open during daylight hours and will provide restrooms, bottled water, electronic device charging, and air-conditioned seating for up to 100 people.

COMMUNITY RESOURCE CENTERS 

  • Auburn Gold County Fairgrounds, 1273 High Street, Auburn
  • Sierra College Grass Valley Campus, 213 and 250 Sierra College Drive, Grass Valley
  • Taylor’s Restaurant, 3600 Taylor Road, Loomis
  • Oroville Union High School, 1674 3rd Avenue, Oroville
  • Oregon House, 9185 Marysville Road, Yuba City

Additional resource centers could be opened depending on where power shutoffs are conducted.

Power Shutoffs N2K 2
Tegna

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WATCH MORE: Auburn Fire Chief Dave Spencer on preparing for possible power shutoffs | Extended Interview