PG&E Shutoffs Are Still Affecting Thousands. When Can They Expect to Get Power Back?

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Power lines backlit by a bold orange sunset.
PG&E power lines in Oakland during an unprecedented power cut by the utility to a large swath of Northern and central California on Oct. 11, 2019. (Stephanie Lister/KQED)

Updated 12:15 p.m. Tuesday.

PG&E has begun the process of restoring power in some areas affected by the latest round of wildfire-related precautionary public safety power shutoffs. Across Northern California, around 24,000 PG&E customers in roughly 20 counties and five tribal regions have been without electricity since early Monday morning.

In the Bay Area, about 8,000 customers have lost power in Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties, according to PG&E.

KQED's PG&E outage map

Dry, hot, gusty winds are elevating the risk of wildfires, prompting a need to de-power lines from the Bay Area to the Oregon border. The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a red flag warning that included every Bay Area county — except San Francisco — on Sunday afternoon, to last through 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Within a 24-hour period from Sunday to Monday, the NWS recorded peak gust speeds topping 40 mph in several parts of the region. Winds reached 47 mph on Mt. Tamalpais, and 41 mph in Santa Rosa.

PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contreras communicated with KQED on Tuesday through email to explain that crews are currently patrolling energy lines in areas that the company has designated as "all clear." However, she pointed out that as of Tuesday morning, restoration of power has not yet begun in the North Bay.

The utility company is also considering another round of shutoffs for late Wednesday through Friday for Northern and central California, as more dry winds are expected in those regions.

The area that could face shutoffs beginning Wednesday is smaller than the region currently affected as the weather conditions are expected to be milder, according to PG&E's power shutoff maps.

One of the areas most heavily affected by the ongoing power outages is Solano County, with 4,561 PG&E customers affected. That number includes about 660 customers in Fairfield, 2,461 customers in the city of Vacaville and 1,247 customers in unincorporated Vacaville, according to Solano County officials.

The power shutoffs have had Solano resident Brigette Bauer and her family stymied over the last year. They live in rural Vacaville, just outside town, raising cattle. During previous shutoffs, the lack of power led to the family being unable to use their well for running water.

That meant no water for their thirsty cows, no showers after a long day at the ranch and, perhaps most importantly, toilets that wouldn't flush.

"After going through a year or two of some of the shutoffs, and the fire, we thought, 'We've got to do something,'" Bauer said.

So Bauer and her family bought a power generator in preparation for this year's shutoffs. That keeps their well water flowing.

Still, Bauer said, even with the backup power, "you still kind of have some concerns about, how long is it going to last?" The generator runs on propane, and they've only got so much on hand. And it was an expensive buy at $30,000.

"Not everyone can afford these," Bauer said.

For those who are without power during the shutoffs, PG&E has local resource centers in some affected counties where customers can plug in to recharge their devices until the severe weather clears.

This post includes reporting from Bay City News and KQED's Kevin Stark and Carlos Cabrera-Lomelí.

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