Saturday 26 October 2019

PG&E considering power cuts for ENTIRE service area

Pacific Gas & Electric 

considering TOTAL power 

outage for its ENTIRE 

service area over Fire Danger

25 October, 2019

People in most of the state of California may soon find themselves without electricity as Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) is deciding whether or not to cut off electric to its entire service area over Wildfire Dangers!
The areas of California served by PG&E is shown on the map above.  
From PG&E:
All attention now turns a major offshore wind event expected to unfold this weekend into Monday across northern and southern California. Unfortunately, this system will be right on the heels of the most recent event and fuels will be critically dry and receptive for fire. In addition, this system will be the strongest of the year and likely will be stronger than the October 2017 northern CA fire event. This event has potential and energy to be the strongest in years. Northern Operations Predictive services is projecting ”an unusually strong 99th percentile” event, and the National Weather Service Bay Area has stated ”this will be a long duration and potentially extreme/historic event across the North Bay”. PG&E Meteorology’s analyses of forecasted pressure gradients from the ECMWF weather model suggest a near 1 in 15 year return period event. Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings as well as Wind Warnings have been issued for most areas north of a Monterey to Yosemite line valid from Saturday afternoon through Monday morning and will likely be upgraded to Red Flag Warning status later this afternoon. Please refer to,, or for the latest updates from federal forecast agencies. As a result of the critical fire weather conditions, Zones 2, 3, 4 and 5 are now in a PSPS Watch for Saturday and all Zones are either in a PSPS Watch or elevated PSPS status for Sunday and Monday. The PG&E Emergency Operations Center remains activated to monitor and prepare for the event.
"PSPS" means Public Safety Power Shutoff.
As shown in red above, "all Zones" may be shut off.
PG&E is now saying approximately 850,000 customers could lose power in the potential PSPS event this weekend starting Saturday.

Using the 3.1 persons per account estimate, that means roughly 2.6 million people could be without power.
Friday update: unfortunately, models have not backed off on extreme wind potential for parts of NorCal late Sat/Sun. Widespread low elevation northeasterly gusts of 40-55 mph & hilltop/canyon gusts of 60-80 mph; isolated mountain spots could see even higher gusts.

Bigger, longer blackouts could lie ahead in California

25 October, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A wildfire in California wine country that may have been caused by a high-voltage transmission line called into question Pacific Gas & Electric’s strategy of selectively cutting off power in windy weather to prevent blazes, and could force it to resort to even bigger blackouts affecting millions as early as this weekend.

The repeated shut-offs and the prospect of longer and more widespread ones brought anger down on the utility from the governor and ordinary customers.

We will hold them to account,” warned Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has repeatedly blasted PG&E — the nation’s largest utility — for what he calls years of mismanagement and underinvestment that have left its grid less resilient.

Twice over the past two weeks, PG&E has cut power to large areas of Northern and Central California to reduce the risk of its equipment sparking fires. Nearly 2 million people lost electricity earlier this month, and then as many as a half-million this week.

But PG&E’s decision to shut down distribution lines but not long-distance transmission lines may have backfired this time when a blaze erupted near the Sonoma County wine country town of Geyserville.

The fire burned at least 49 buildings and 34 square miles (65 square kilometers) and prompted evacuation orders for some 2,000 people. No serious injuries were reported.

PG&E said a live, 230,000-volt transmission line near Geyserville had malfunctioned minutes before the fire erupted Wednesday night, and a broken “jumper” wire was found on a transmission tower.

PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said it was too soon to say whether the faulty equipment sparked the fire. He said the tower had been inspected four times in the past two years and appeared to have been in excellent condition.

California’s biggest utility admitted its electrical equipment may have ignited a ruinous wildfire spreading across the state’s wine country Friday, despite blackouts imposed across the region to prevent blazes.

The disclosure came as firefighters simultaneously battled flames in both Northern and Southern California: the fire amid Sonoma County’s vineyards, and a wind-whipped blaze that destroyed homes near Los Angeles.

The fire near the Northern California town of Geyserville burned at least 49 buildings and 34 square miles (65 square kilometers) and prompted evacuation orders for some 2,000 people.

It was whipped up by the strong winds that had prompted Pacific Gas & Electric to impose sweeping blackouts affecting a half-million people in Northern and Central California. Power was restored to most people by Thursday evening, PG&E said.

The power shut-offs were imposed after PG&E electrical equipment was blamed for several blazes in recent years that killed scores of people and burned thousands of homes.

However, PG&E said Thursday it didn’t de-energize a 230,000-volt transmission line near Geyserville that malfunctioned minutes before the fire erupted. The company reported finding a “broken jumper” wire on a transmission tower Wednesday night.

PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said it was too soon to know if the faulty equipment ignited the fire. He said the tower had been inspected four times in the past two years and appeared to have been in excellent condition.

In shutting off the electricity, PG&E cut power to the distribution lines that supply homes, but not to its long-distance transmission lines.

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