The Latest: PG&E says it may restore power Thursday
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on power outages in California (all times local):
Pacific Gas & Electric says it expects to get the all-clear before dawn Thursday to begin the process of restoring power to more than 100,000 people hit by a planned blackout.
The utility says 48,000 customers — about 120,000 people — in 10 Northern and central California counties lost electricity Wednesday. That was only about a third the number PG&E originally estimated it would black out because of forecasts for dry, windy weather that posed a wildfire threat.
Wednesday evening, officials said the weather actually proved more favorable, with cloud cover, increased humidity and rain helping reduce the footprint of the outage.
Some power already is being restored. Officials say an expected all-clear determination about Thursday’s weather will allow the utility to send helicopters at daybreak to check for wind damage to power lines so full restoration can proceed.
Pacific Gas & Electric has again revised the number of people in Northern California who could be affected by power outages Wednesday as the weather improves.
PG&E says in a statement 48,000 customers or about 120,000 people in 10 counties lost electricity Wednesday.
It says rain and increased humidity helped lower the risk for fires in several areas.
Utility officials initially said that about 375,000 people would be affected by the outages expected to last through Thursday.
Another 35,000 people in four counties have been advised they could lose power later Wednesday if the weather doesn’t improve in their communities.
California utility regulators told communications providers to step up preparations for widespread power outages or other emergencies that could hamper first responders and residents.
The California Public Utilities Commission ordered representatives of eight companies to attend the meeting Wednesday to answer questions about their responses during recent outages.
The meeting came as Pacific Gas & Electric initiated its latest round of shutdowns in Northern California to prevent equipment from sparking blazes in hot, windy weather.
Representatives of AT&T and T-Mobile told commissioners that PG&E’s failure to communicate undermined their efforts to prepare.
About 3% of statewide cell towers failed in late October. The figure was much higher in some counties, with nearly 60% of towers failing in Marin County.
Pacific Gas & Electric has significantly lowered the number of places in California that could be affected by power outages as the utility turns the electricity off to prevent its equipment from starting wildfires.
Utility officials originally said that about 375,000 people in Northern and central California would be affected by the outages starting Wednesday and lasting through Thursday.
But rain and high humidity happened in areas that had been targeted for the outages. As a result, PG&E spokeswoman Ari Vanrenen says about 67,000 customers or about 170,000 people now face power cuts.
She says another 35,000 people have been advised they could lose power later Wednesday if the weather doesn’t improve in their communities.
The power cuts are the latest in a series of mass, planned outages prompted by extreme fire risk weather conditions over the past two months.
Pacific Gas & Electric has begun shutting off power to people in the San Francisco Bay Area and portions of California’s northern coast amid warm and windy weather that can help fan wildfires. The utility is trying to prevent its power lines from sparking fires.
PG&E spokeswoman Katie Allen says some people in the wine country counties of Napa and Sonoma lost electricity at about 7 a.m. Power has also been cut in parts of Mendocino and Yolo counties.
No details were immediately provided as to how many people lost electricity, but the shut-offs are expected to affect 375,000 people and last into Thursday.
Officials in some counties say schools, libraries and other public buildings will be closed Wednesday because of the outages.
It’s the latest in a series of mass, planned outages prompted by extreme fire risk weather conditions over the past two months.
Pacific Gas & Electric is once again shutting off power to large areas of central and Northern California because of fire danger.
PG&E planned blackouts Wednesday in parts of 18 counties ranging from north of Sacramento to the northern San Francisco Bay Area, wine country and the Sierra Nevada foothills.
The shut-offs could affect about 375,000 people and could last into Thursday.
It’s the latest in a series of mass outages prompted by weather conditions in the past two months. Brush is bone-dry from a lack of fall rains. PG&E is worried that gusts might fling debris into its power lines, sparking catastrophic wildfires.
The previous outages included one that affected 2.5 million people last month, inconveniencing and outraging customers. But PG&E says it’s a matter of public safety.