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Q&A on PG&E power shutoff plan

ABC10’s in-house expert on PG&E and wildfires answers your questions about the electric utility’s new power shutoff plan.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Earlier this week, ABC10 reported on PG&E's new plan to shut off your power during weather conditions that could spark wildfires. Many of you told us you've received this letter or email from PG&E, warning you that they could shut off your power for days during fire season.

RELATED: PG&E warns it could cut power to cities for days

We asked on Facebook-- what do you think of this plan? Hundreds of people weighed in, many bringing up important questions.

ABC10’s in-house expert on PG&E and wildfires, Brandon Rittiman, answered some of those questions.

"We cannot suffer our towns just being at the whim of being burned down because of this,” he said, “(It’s) poor conditions on the forest floor, it's climate change causing more bad fire weather days, and it's, you know, equipment failures and/or trees hitting the equipment."

Q: Why could my power get shut off if I live nowhere near a fire danger area? For example, Manteca.

A: PG&E’s new Public Safety Power Shutoff Policies and Procedures calls for the shutting down of power along its transmission lines, and transmission lines are those big, steel tower powerlines that carry power between regions. Manteca, for example, is on a big transmission line that runs up past Angels Camp. There are going to be some hot, dry days when the wind is blowing really fast up in the Foothills and they're going to want to protect the area from fire danger. In order to do that, PG&E is going to shut off that line, which could very well impact Manteca and other communities along that transmission line; they could be without power for days.

Q: Why are the possible power shutoffs supposed to last so long?

A: The average power shutoff, if you ask the state regulators, is three days, which sounds like a long time - and it is a long time if you've got a fridge full of food, right? But they have to go reinspect the line. If they shut the power off and then turn it back on and a tree has fallen on it and they didn't go look, what was the point of shutting it off in the first place? So when they shut off that big line that runs through Manteca and say they shut 150 miles of it off, they've got to get guys and gals out there to look at 150 miles of line and make sure that there's not a part of it down and that they're not going to start a fire when they flick the switch to turn it back on.

Q: What about people who rely on power for important medical devices?

A: You should get a generator or you should get battery back-up power for your home if you have medical need. Those are called medical baseline customers, there's already a system for registering with the power company, and they do extra steps to warn you if there is an outage or they're expecting one.

Q: Will PG&E reimburse me for spoiled food when my fridge loses power for days?

A: PG&E says no, they won’t. And the outages are going to be bigger, they're going to last longer and there's not a lot you can do about them other than go to a different place or get back-up power installed now so that you're ready when the time comes.

Continue the conversation with Becca on Facebook or Brandon on Facebook.

WATCH ALSO: PG&E to bury power lines underground in Paradise