PGE 21-county Power Shutoff Warning includes portion of Sonoma County

Cheryl Sanders
October 17, 2020

Customer notifications about the potential power shutoffs began Monday afternoon.

Higher temperatures and gusty offshore winds later this week have PG&E warning customers in the North Bay and elsewhere that there could be another PSPS (public safety power shutoff) in their future. The utility, which gave the all clear Friday afternoon, said it needs to inspect and fix any damaged lines, poles and towers before it can restore service.

NWS meteorologist Anna Schneider tells the Chronicle that the winds are expected to be highest Wednesday night into Thursday morning, creating an increased risk for downed power lines and wildfires.

Numerous studies have linked bigger wildfires in America to climate change from the burning of coal, oil and gas.

Thousands of households across Northern California braced for power blackouts on Wednesday as dry weather threatened to touch off a new round of the wildfires that have ravaged the state.

The utility also has deployed generators and other measures to keep electricity flowing in some areas that might loose power during the outages, Quinlan said. It was originally set to affect 53,000 customers, but PG&E said it was able to spare 12,000 customers through deployment of microgrids and other systems that can bring temporary power to localized areas.

Strenfel said some Bay Area communities could see gusts as high as 55 miles per hour.

Most of the huge fires that erupted over the past eight weeks are now fully or significantly contained but the gains could be hampered if new fires ignite, said Daniel Berlant, assistant deputy director with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire.

At least 31 people have died in the more than 8,500 fires that have burned in the state in 2020. Thirty-one people have died, and more than 9,200 buildings have been destroyed.

Dale Kasler covers climate change, the environment, economics and the convoluted world of California water. "They grow much more quickly".

Dry, windy weather posed an extreme wildfire risk Wednesday in Northern California, where massive blazes already have destroyed hundreds of homes and killed or injured dozens of people.

The utility pleaded guilty in June to 84 felony counts of involuntary manslaughter - one death was ruled a suicide - and paid $25.5 billion in settlements to cover the losses from that and other recent power line-sparked catastrophes.

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