PG&E Promising "Shorter, Smarter" Power Shutoffs This Season

Megan Goldsby
May 07, 2020 - 5:00 am

    Pacific Gas and Electric is promising smaller, shorter and smarter Public Safety Power Shutoffs for fire season this year.

    The utility is also planning to deal with the PSPS events at the same time as implementing social distancing, if necessary.

    Many of us may be sheltered-in-place, but PG&E hasn’t stopped working on segmenting the power grid and preparing other factors that the company hopes will make those shutoffs less painful.

    "PG&E’s goal this year is to reduce the number of customers affected by each potential PSPS event by nearly one-third compared to similar events last year," PG&E Spokesman Joe Horak told North Bay residents in a community webinar Wednesday.

    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 05: Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) Senior Wildfire Operations Center Analyst Anthony Malnati sits in front of video screens and computer monitors at he PG&E Wildfire Safety Operations Center in San Francisco, CA.
    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    The company has also added 60 new weather stations in the North Bay alone. The goal is to have one weather station per every 20 miles of the total PG&E circuit.

    "Unfortunately our primary contractor making our weather stations has shut down," PG&E’s Jim Wickham said. "That goal may be extended further into 2022."

    Because of the coronavirus, Vanessa Bryan of PG&E said the company has identified community resource sites for people who lose power that can be run using social distancing.

    "We will have sprinter vehicles out in communities that will have resources for (residents) there," Bryan said.

    Horak said the utility has now put Calistoga and Angwin on their own power grids, for example, and has continued to cut trees back from wires year-round.

    PG&E has several webinars planned for communities around the state through early August.