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PG&E may turn power off to 600,000 as high winds approach

California wildfire

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said Tuesday it anticipates a “public safety power shutoff” to more than 600,000 customers across portions of nearly 30 northern, central, coastal and Bay Area California counties beginning Wednesday that may last several days as a “precautionary measure” to reduce wildfire risk in those areas because of windy weather.

San Francisco-based PG&E said if it decides to implement the safety shutoff, it would begin turning power off early Wednesday morning. It said based on the latest weather forecast and models, it anticipates the period of peak winds will occur from early Wednesday morning and last through midday Thursday.

But it may take several days to fully restore power after the weather passes and safety inspections are completed, said Michael Lewis, senior vice president for PG&E Electric Operations, in a statement.

“This is shaping up to be one of the most severe dry wind events we’ve seen in our territory in recent years, and we want our customers to be prepared for an extended outage that may last several days,” Mr. Lewis said. “Our meteorological and operations teams continue to actively monitor the weather and this evolving situation, and we are working directly with state and local agencies to help prepare our customers and the public for this safety event.”

The statement said customers may be affected by a power shutoff even though they are not experiencing extreme weather conditions in their specific locations because the electric system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity across cities, counties and regions.

PG&E said in September it had reached an $11 billion settlement with entities representing about 85% of insurance subrogation claims relating to 2017 and 2018 wildfires.




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