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PG&E Power Shutoffs: What You Need to Know

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Rick Shaw bartends using light from a lantern at the Town Square Sports Bar in Sonoma, California, on October 9, 2019, during a planned power outage by the Pacific Gas & Electric utility company. (Brittany Hosea-Small/Getty Images)

Updated: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2:50 p.m.

On Tuesday afternoon — two years to the day after the deadly North Bay firestorm erupted — PG&E announced its plans to cut electricity to up to 800,000 customers across its service area due to conditions strikingly similar to those which spawned the North Bay fires.

A fire reported in the East Bay community of Moraga early Thursday morning threatened 140 buildings in an area where power had been cut. The fire burned 40 acres and is 95% contained, according to Cal Fire.

Find updated details and community resources for affected Bay Area communities below:

Here is an alphabetized, updated list of school closures.

PG&E has been updating its list of cities and numbers of customers affected, although the utility's website continues to crash due to high traffic volume.

Click on this photo to view PG&E's searchable Northern California power outage map.


How to Prepare

Sumeet Singh, vice president of PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program, confirmed that Californians can expect continued widespread power shutoffs like these in similar weather conditions, and called PG&E's work necessary in order to safeguard against a wind-sparked wildfire "a multi-year journey."

To prepare for a power shutoff, PG&E recommends having enough food and water on hand for up to a week, preparing an emergency kit, charging phones and necessary devices, and ensuring you have cash and a full tank of gas because ATMs and gas stations may not work without power. Here's a full list of things to do before and during a power shutoff.

You can check PG&E's website and sign up to be notified of power outages in your area — and to get information about when it might be back on.

What Are Public Safety Power Shutoffs?

The Public Safety Shutoff Program

Power shutoffs are part of PG&E's state-mandated wildfire mitigation plan, which aims to cut down on the ignition of wildfires during high-risk periods.

Earlier this week, the National Weather Service issued a fire weather watch due to extremely high winds and low humidity starting late Tuesday night and into Thursday afternoon. That forecast prompted PG&E to initiate the shutoff starting very early Wednesday morning.

"It's a very fluid situation," said PG&E spokesperson Mayra Tostado, noting their meteorologists are monitoring the situation from the company's wildfire safety operations center in San Francisco.

Tostado said the utility tries to restore power within 24 to 48 hours of the end of a weather event, but because of the size of this shutoff and the need to conduct safety checks once it is over, customers should prepare for their power to be out for multiple days.

What Will Be Closed and Open?

Many cities warned residents that traffic lights will be out and to avoid driving if possible. Treat all non-functioning stop lights as a four-way stop. The same goes for any railroad crossing signals, which may be affected by a power shutoff.

Cellphones should continue to work despite the outages. Major cellphone providers that rely on PG&E's electricity said they don't expect the shutoffs to affect service because they will be relying on backup power.

"We have generators and backup batteries at the majority of our cell towers and all our switch locations to keep our network up and running if commercial power is lost," said Verizon spokeswoman Jeannine Brew Braggs in a statement. "And we are able to refuel our generators to keep them running."

The Montclair neighborhood of Oakland at dawn Thursday morning. The area was among those that had their power cut in the second phase of shutoffs late Wednesday night.
The Montclair neighborhood of Oakland at dawn Thursday morning. The area was among those that had their power cut in the second phase of shutoffs late Wednesday night. (Jeremy Siegel/KQED)

However, Comcast said its internet service could go down if the power is shut off in an area and would be restored once power was turned back on.

Most federal, state and county parks are closed because of the fire risk.

PG&E opened community resource centers starting Wednesday with air conditioning, charging stations and bottled water. Each resource center has seating for up to 100 people and will only be open during daylight hours.

Here is more information including outage details, community resource centers and state parks:


North Bay

The North Bay was the first part of the Bay Area to experience outages, with the power out as of Wednesday morning for 10,183 customers in Marin County, 32,754 in Napa, 31,632 in Solano and 67,000 in Sonoma.

The good news, said one PG&E spokesperson, is that if you didn't wake up in these areas to your power off, then it's unlikely it'll be turned off later.

Community resource centers:

  • Calistoga: Calistoga Fairgrounds, 1601 N. Oak St., Calistoga 94515
  • Santa Rosa: Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building, 1351 Maple Ave., Santa Rosa 95404
  • Vacaville: Mission Church, 6391 Leisure Town Rd., Vacaville 95687
  • Vallejo: Six Flags, 1001 Fairgrounds Dr., Vallejo 94589

Golden Gate National Recreation Area: All Marin County park sites — Muir Woods, Marin Headlands, Muir Beach and Stinson Beach — are closed on Wednesday and Thursday.

Santa Rosa: The city has canceled all public city meetings.

East Bay

Outages in the East Bay area started Wednesday night.

Shutoffs could affect up to 32,680 PG&E customers in Alameda County, including parts of Oakland and Berkeley. In Contra Costa County, 51,310 customers could be affected.

Community resource centers:

  • Oakland: Merritt College LOT B, Leona St., Oakland 94508
  • San Ramon: Bishop Ranch Parking Lot, 2600 Camino Ramon, San Ramon 94583

Oakland: City buildings and programs will be open, except Joaquin Miller Park will be closed to the public, and the following facilities will be closed until power is restored: Dimond Recreation Center and Lions Pool, East Oakland Sports Center, Redwood Heights Recreation Center, Sheffield Village Recreation Center, Montclair Recreation Center, Joaquin Miller Community Center, Dunsmuir Hellman Historic Estate, Leona and Sequoia lodges.

South Bay & Peninsula

Outages in the region started Wednesday night. 

Shutoffs could affect 14,766 PG&E customers in Santa Mateo County. In Santa Clara County, 38,250 customers could be affected, including portions of San Jose.

Officials in Morgan Hill, a city of 45,000 people about 24 miles south of San Jose, imposed a curfew intended to reduce opportunities for crime during the power shutoff. The curfew began at 7 p.m. and was lifted at 6:30 a.m. Thursday.

The city of San Jose has created its own interactive map, searchable by district:

Community resource centers:

  • Half Moon Bay: Pasta Moon Restaurant, 845 Main St., Half Moon Bay 94019
  • San Jose: Avaya Stadium, 1123 Coleman Ave., San Jose 95110

San Jose: The city operated three of its own community resource centers from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday. Charging stations were available for plug-in medical devices and phones. Spanish and Vietnamese language translation were also available. Locations:

  • Camden Community Center, 3369 Union Ave.
  • Mayfair Community Center, 2039 Kammerer Ave.
  • Southside Community Center, 5585 Cottle Rd.

State Parks

California State Parks on Wednesday released the following list of parks affected by red flag fire weather warnings and PG&E's power shutoffs:

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