PG&E Begins to Cut Power for Nearly 800,000 Customers Due to Wildfire Risk.
Large swaths of Northern California woke up in the dark early Wednesday as Pacific Gas & Electric began its sweeping plan to shut off power to about 800,000 customers in a desperate attempt to avoid wildfires sparked by wind-damaged power equipment.
The first power cutoffs, expected to affect 513,000 customers, began shortly after midnight in several counties around Sacramento, including Placer and Yuba, amid strengthening winds and continued to roll out into the early morning hours, eventually leaving millions of Californians in the dark.
By 12:30 a.m., power was cut in large portions of wine country, including Napa and Sonoma valleys. Portions of Marin County just north of San Francisco lost power next. Minutes later, the utility cut service in El Dorado County and sections of the upper Sacramento Valley. By 5 a.m., the outages had extended to Humbolt County to the north, Marin County to the south and as far as Nevada County to the east, according to the utility.
The second phase of the shutoff is expected to occur around noon in areas around Silicon Valley and the East San Francisco Bay. About 234,000 customers in Alameda, Alpine, Contra Costa, Mariposa, San Joaquin, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties are expected to be without power.
The utility said Wednesday it was also considering shutting off power to about 42,000 customers in the southernmost portion of PG&E’s service area, but specific locations have not been determined.
On Tuesday, Southern California Edison announced it also was considering preventive power outages. The utility said that given the anticipated strong Santa Ana winds, power could be cut off to more than 106,000 customers in parts of eight Southern California counties, including Los Angeles County.
Here is the current PG&E power outage map. Napa Valley (wine country), and the Sierra foothills are the major sufferers in PG&E’s attempt to avoid another Paradise, California incident.
Of course, PG&E is in bankruptcy having defaulted on its interest payments to bondholders.
PG&E bonds are trading at near par and their stock is trading at around $11 per share.