Cal ISO declared a transmission emergency late Tuesday afternoon. A 500 kilovolt transmission line near San Juan Bautista was brought down by heavy winds. Without the line it will be more difficult to get power from Southern California to Northern California. The power flow has been cut by a third, according to officials.
The area of power lines is called Path 15 and it is the main artery of huge transmission lines that are a highway of sorts bringing power from the north and south.
Cal ISO is asking people who live in the northern part of California to conserve their use of power for the remainder of the day. They say the 6 p.m. hour will be key because that is when most people will return home and start firing up electricity output in their homes.
KSBW in Salinas is reporting the line is down at San Juan Road and Highway 101.
Power crews across the state have had all hands on deck all day as they work to restore power to thousands of customers who lost service due to downed lines, but PG&E sees the Path 15 failure as a key priority.
More than 35,000 PG&E customers were already without power in the Bay Area alone.
The exact numbers keep changing as today's storm moves through the region, but as of 3 p.m. outages were affecting about 12,000 South Bay customers, 11,000 customers on the Peninsula, 10,000 in the East Bay, 3,200 in the North Bay and 1,200 in San Francisco, PG&E spokeswoman Katie Romans said.
The utility is telling customers to anticipate an extended outage, Romans said. This morning's outages were largely the result of heavy rain, but "the wind started becoming a factor" around 11 a.m., she said.
Fallen branches have caused many outages, Roman said, although the ones remaining on trees are also complicating repair efforts.
"It's a very early storm for the season and a lot of leaves are still on the trees and whipping our equipment and crews," she said.
PG&E crews will be following the storm's movement, assessing damage and making repairs, Romans said. The utility is encouraging customers to be prepared with flashlights, battery-powered radios and, of course, extra batteries.