To avoid wildfires, PG&E will shut off power to over 300,000 customers in the Bay Area

The decision results from a forecast of historically strong winds which could create dangerous wildfire conditions.

PG&E crews work to replace telephone poles that were burned by the Camp Fire on Billie Road in the town of Paradise in Butte County on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, more than a week after the fire broke out. (Photo by Kevin N. Hume)

PG&E said Tuesday afternoon that the utility will implement a Public Safety Power Shutoff in portions of 34 counties around California starting early Wednesday because of dry and windy weather in the forecast, affecting nearly 800,000 customers.

PG&E is implementing the preemptive power shutdowns just after midnight to try to avoid sparking a wildfire during a weather event that could bring winds of 40 to 55 mph, with gusts as high as 60-70 mph through midday Thursday.

The utility had initially identified parts of 30 counties in its service area that would be affected, but on Tuesday said parts of Marin, Humboldt, Trinity and Kern counties have been added to the scope of the shutoff.

Areas in the wider Bay Area affected by the shut offs include Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Santa Clara, San Cruz, San Mateo, Solano, and Sonoma counties. The estimated number of PG&E customers affected in those regions is over 300,000

During a press briefing Tuesday night, PG&E representatives said the powerful winds are expected to last into Thursday evening and that it could take several days for all power to be fully restored.

PG&E has asked people to visit their website for information on the specific areas affected by the shutdown, but the site has been down for hours Tuesday.

The utility wrote on Twitter to apologize for the website problems.

“We are currently experiencing high volume of traffic to our website & understand your frustration w/ the delay of accessing #PSPS related web pages,” PG&E wrote. “We apologize for the convenience and thank you for your patience as our team is working as quickly as possible to restore access.”

PG&E is also asking people to call (877) 9000-PGE to receive phone call alerts or to text “ENROLL” to 97633 to receive text alerts about the shutdowns.

PG&E will open community resource centers in various counties starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday. The centers will feature restrooms, bottled water, electronic device charging and air conditioned seating for up to 100 people per facility.

A list of the centers can be found here

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