At least 88 percent of an estimated 172,000 customers in 22 counties across California affected by PG&E's latest Public Safety Power Shutoff have had service restored, PG&E officials said Wednesday evening.
Late Tuesday, PG&E meteorologists gave the "all clear" to allow for inspections and restoration of power to proceed through Wednesday in areas that had power shut off proactively amid hot and windy weather conditions since Monday.
With the "all clear" given, more than 3,000 PG&E employees began at daylight Wednesday the process of inspecting by ground and helicopter about 10,750 miles of transmission and distribution lines for damage before restoring power, aiming to restore service for a majority of customers by the end of the day.
"Our crews are still working and they will continue to work into the very late evening to restore as many customers as we can, because we understand how important that is," said PG&E Incident Commander Mark Quinlan.
During Wednesday's inspections, PG&E crews identified 27 "damage and hazard incidents" along the system.
"Each one of those damage cases represents an opportunity for an arc flash event, a spark event, and when you have that happen, it falls to the ground and with extremely dry conditions with the high winds, it can cause an ignition -- an ignition that can be very, very difficult to control," Quinlan said.
So far, PG&E crews haven't found any evidence that PG&E facilities are linked to any recent wildfire ignitions.
Quinlan said he expects most of the remaining customers to have their power restored by Wednesday night or by noon on Thursday at the latest.
"While we've been restoring (power) we've continued to keep our customers notified via calls, text messages and emails," said Vanessa Bryan with PG&E Customer Support. "And we'll send a final notification that power has been restored, and these notifications are available in 13 languages."
Weather stations registered winds of more than 60 mph in parts of Sonoma County on Tuesday night. About 15,000 customers in Santa Rosa and about 2,600 in unincorporated parts of the county were without power, while in Napa County about 5,028 customers in elevated areas lost power.
Napa and Sonoma were the only two Bay Area counties affected by the power shutoff. The other 20 counties affected are Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Humboldt, Kern, Lake, Lassen, Mariposa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne and Yuba.
More information about the shutoffs can be found at www.pge.com/pspsupdates.