PG&E officials said Monday they expected to restore power by midnight to 70 percent of the customers in several counties where power was turned off Sunday night to reduce wildfire risks in conditions that are dry, windy and with low humidity.
Late Monday, the utility released a statement saying in part it expected to have power restored to all customers affected by the shutoff by Tuesday.
"We don’t have specific times right now, but we will be communicating that as we continue to make progress on our safety inspections," a PG&E spokesperson said in the statement.
Improved weather conditions Monday morning allowed PG&E crews to patrol and inspect power lines by helicopter, vehicle and on foot to identity any damage that occurred overnight, spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin said.
Power already had been restored in parts of the Napa County city of Calistoga, where the downtown area looked like a ghost town most of Monday, with empty sidewalks and businesses.
"I can completely appreciate they have a lot of lines to take care of, but we laso need to set expectations for our residents on when they can expect to get their power back," Mayor Chris Channing said. "There has to be a better technology than they're using to let them know when the lines are OK and not OK. At his point, it looks like this is the new normal for a little while, but there has to be an improvement."
Christina St. Clair of Chateu Ste Shirts was one of the few merchants who opened anyway. Customers shopped by flashlight, and she made just a handful of sales.
"It’s frustrating. I don’t know why we have to be shut down this long," St. Clair said. "Customers are leaving. They can’t eat in town, they can’t even get coffee. If they are staying here, they have no power."
Michael Dunsford, who owns the Calistoga Inn, said the daylong power outage closed down his kitchen, put tons of food and fermenting beer at risk and left his hotel guests reeling. He’s furious.
"Is this the new normal now of how we’re going to approach wind conditions and dry weather conditions, to literally shut down power to entire communities?" Dunsford said. "We had guests who were very upset last night. They wanted refunds. Some of them left. We had other guests that chose to stay, and we had to give them candies in their rooms."
PG&E said it will provide customers in affected areas detailed information about their expected time of restoration.
The Public Safety Power Shutoff was in effect for an estimated 60,000 customers in Sonoma, Lake, Napa, Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado and Placer counties. PG&E notified 97,000 customers of the possibility that power would be turned off, but conditions did not require them all, Subbotin said.
Portions of the North Bay experienced wind speeds of over 60 mph and gusts of up to 70 mph, Subbotin said.
PG&E's 24/7 Wildlife Safety Operations Center and in-house meteorologists monitored the weather for several days before the decision to cut power was made. PG&E notified customers through automated phone calls, texts, social media and emails Saturday about the possible power shutoff.
The outage closed some school closures in Calistoga and other parts of the fire risk areas.
Cal Fire announced in June that PG&E's equipment led to many of the fires in Northern California a year ago.