Here Are the Cities PG&E Says Will Be Affected by Preemptive Power Shutoffs

The Sebastiani Theatre and much of downtown Sonoma went dark during the last PG&E power shutoff on Oct. 10, 2019. Sonoma is once again on the list of affected cities for this week's power shutoff due to high fire danger.  (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Updated 6:50 p.m. Wednesday

With another round of windy, bone-dry weather blowing into Northern and Central California, PG&E began shutting off power to communities from the Bay Area to the Sierra foothills Wednesday afternoon to reduce the danger of its electrical lines touching off wildfires. On Wednesday night, the utility confirmed they may perform another round of shutoffs as early as this weekend.

The utility began shutoffs at 2 p.m. Wednesday in the Sierra foothills and 3 p.m. in Sonoma and Napa counties, as forecasters expected warm, dry winds to ramp up toward dangerous levels. Approximately 179,000 customers in 17 counties could be affected by the public safety power shutoffs, also known as PSPS events, that began Wednesday.

PG&E will also black out customers in limited areas of San Mateo County and Kern County, with lines being de-energized in those locales about 1 a.m. Thursday.

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Weather models forecast high pressure building to the north, with gusty and dry winds across Northern California through midday Thursday morning, said PG&E chief meteorologist Scott Strenfel. The gusty winds coincide with a period of very low humidity, a combination of factors that will serve to wring moisture out of already dry vegetation and increase the wildfire hazards.

The utility will begin restoring power to affected areas after winds taper off, which is expected between 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday.

However, PG&E confirmed in a press conference Wednesday night that more shutoffs may be on the horizon this weekend or early next week. Some forecast models suggest it "could be the strongest wind event of the season," according to Strenfel.

Customers affected by shutoffs during the week could also be impacted by the next round, but the utility plans to restore power before the second round strikes.

"Our plan, given the projected all clear, is that we will have everybody restored who could be affected by the second one before it happens," said PG&E CEO Bill Johnson at the Wednesday night press conference. The utility said it is too early to estimate how many customers might be affected by the upcoming shutoffs.

In a letter to PG&E on Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom demanded that the utility “better manage the current anticipated PSPS event” and “ensure that as few people as possible are impacted by any future PSPS decision.”

“We understand the hardship created by these shutoffs,” said PG&E CEO Bill Johnson at a press conference Tuesday evening. “But again, we’ve seen the impact of wildfires both over the years and recently in Southern California, and we’re determined not to let that happen.”

The number of customers with medical needs who are enrolled in the utility's medical baseline program — which offers lower energy rates for older and disabled people who need extra power to operate ventilators, dialysis machines or mechanized wheelchairs — are also listed below.

But public health officers and consumer advocates say that the medical baseline program under-represents who’s at risk in a shutoff area. For instance, people who live in buildings that receive just one electric bill — or in mobile home communities — cannot register.

Below is a list of cities by county and the number of estimated customers that could be affected. Affected areas can change quickly.

PG&E has alerted customers that it may again shut off power to communities from parts of the Bay Area to the Sierra foothills Wednesday evening to reduce the danger of its electrical lines touching off wildfires. The data below was updated Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 1:30 p.m.