Thousands of PG&E and Contract Workers Deployed in Response to Today’s Second Storm
Ongoing Adverse Weather and Access Issues Due to Low Snow Delaying Restoration for Some Customers in Hardest Hit Areas
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) crews have restored essentially all customers who lost electricity following the storm that hit Northern and Central California earlier this week. As PG&E continues to assess damage, make repairs and safely restore service to remaining customers, crews are prepared to respond to a second storm moving through Northern and Central California.
Since the start of this series of storms on Sunday, PG&E has restored power to more than 350,000 customers. Through yesterday, power had been restored to more than 91 percent of customers in six hours or less. Overall, about 15,000 customers remain out of power with about 11,000 of those related to outages that occurred with the arrival of today’s second storm.
While most customers who lost power from the first storm have been restored, heavy snow, avalanche warnings, road closures, downed trees and fallen branches, and other access issues are impeding the ability of PG&E crews to make repairs in some areas. Additionally, the storm currently moving through Northern and Central California could hinder restoration efforts, and result in additional outage activity.
The current storm is not predicted to be as strong as the first, but is still expected to result in low-altitude snow across the Northern Coastal Range and Sierra Nevada areas as it moves throughout PG&E’s service area tonight and Thursday. PG&E’s meteorology team is anticipating peak gusts of 30-45 mph across the state, reaching as far south as the Santa Cruz Range and Merced County.
This week’s winter storms have damaged PG&E’s infrastructure throughout the service area, with 125 poles, 174 transformers, 866 spans of wire and 163 cross-arms needing repair or replacement. Impacts have been most consequential in the Sierra, in the Santa Cruz Mountains and other areas of the Central Coast and up north in Humboldt and Mendocino counties.
This week, PG&E has 332 multi-person restoration crews available to make repairs and restore power. Additionally, on duty are 322 troublemen, who are the utility’s first responders to an outage, and 431 vegetation management workers who work to keep trees away from powerlines.
In all, 2,154 coworkers and contract personnel have boots on the ground in response to the weather. In addition, hundreds more PG&E employees staffed emergency centers and performed other jobs related to storm response.
Keeping Customers Informed
PG&E knows the importance of keeping its customers informed. Customers can view real-time outage information on its website outage center and search by a specific address, by city or by county. This site has been updated to include in-language support for 16 languages.
Additionally, customers can sign up for outage notifications by text, email or phone. PG&E will inform customers about the cause of an outage, when crews are on their way, the estimated restoration time, and when power is restored.
Storm Safety Tips
- Never touch downed wires: If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and extremely dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it—and keep children and animals away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 9-1-1 and by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
- Gas and electric safety if flooding occurs. If a customer’s home or business is threatened by rising waters, turn off all gas appliances, or close gas appliance valves with a one-quarter turn. If you are unable to shut gas appliances off, turn your gas service off at the meter by using a wrench or other suitable tool to give the valve a one-quarter turn, in either direction, until it is perpendicular to the pipe. To shut off electricity, locate the main switch at the electric panel and turn the switch off. Never touch electrical equipment with wet hands or while standing in water. Once floodwaters recede, PG&E will restore gas and electric service to the community. When returning to their homes, customers should not attempt to turn on their gas or electricity. They should contact PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to request that their services be restored.
- Use generators safely: Customers with standby electric generators should make sure they are properly installed by a licensed electrician in a well-ventilated area. Improperly installed generators pose a significant danger to customers, as well as crews working on power lines. If using portable generators, be sure they are in a well-ventilated area.
- Use flashlights, not candles: During a power outage, use battery-operated flashlights, and not candles, due to the risk of fire. And keep extra batteries on hand. If you must use candles, please keep them away from drapes, lampshades, animals, and small children. Do not leave candles unattended.
- Have a backup phone: If you have a telephone system that requires electricity to work, such as a cordless phone or answering machine, plan to have a standard telephone or cellular phone ready as a backup. Having a portable charging device helps to keep your cell phone running.
- Have fresh drinking water, ice: Freeze plastic containers filled with water to make blocks of ice that can be placed in your refrigerator/freezer during an outage to prevent foods from spoiling. Blue Ice from your picnic cooler also works well in the freezer.
- Secure outdoor furniture: Deck furniture, lightweight yard structures and decorative lawn items should be secured as they can be blown by high winds and damage overhead power lines and property.
- Turn off appliances: If you experience an outage, unplug, or turn off all electrical appliances to avoid overloading circuits and to prevent fire hazards when power is restored. Simply leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
- Safely clean up: After the storm has passed, be sure to safely clean up. Never touch downed wires and always call 8-1-1 or visit 811express.com at least two full business days before digging to have all underground utilities safely marked.
Other tips can be found at www.pge.com/beprepared.
PG&E, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.