PG&E Shuts Off Power in 17 Counties Amid High Fire Danger

PG&E is in the process of restoring electricity in some areas after shutting off power to roughly 179,000 customers in parts of 17 counties as dangerous fire weather swept across California.

The latest round of planned power shutoffs started Wednesday afternoon in the Sierra foothills and in the North Bay. A section of the Peninsula went dark early Thursday morning, according to PG&E.

PG&E on Thursday afternoon said improving weather conditions prompted an "all clear" for San Mateo County and areas south of the Interstate 80 line. PG&E crews are now inspecting lines for potential weather-related damage before the utility restores power.

In Sonoma County, PG&E officials late Thursday afternoon said the utility started to inspect lines as crews prepared to restore power. PG&E is projecting to restore power to all impacted areas of Sonoma County by 7 p.m. Friday.

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In the Bay Area, the shutoffs have affected tens of thousands of customers in portions of Napa, San Mateo and Sonoma counties, according to PG&E. Here's a breakdown of the impact:

  • Napa County: 7,085 customers in Angwin, Calistoga, Deer Park, Lake Berryessa, Oakville, Pope Valley, Rutherford, St. Helena.
  • San Mateo County: 1,005 customers in La Honda, San Gregorio, Woodside, unincorporated San Mateo County.
  • Sonoma County: 27,837 customers in Annapolis, Boyes Hot Springs, Cloverdale, Fulton, Geyserville, Glen Ellen, Guerneville, Healdsburg, Kenwood, Larkfield, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Windsor, Stewarts Point..

The following school closures, prompted by the shutoffs and the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County, have been announced for Thursday:

  • Alexander Valley School District
  • Cloverdale Unified School District
  • Geyserville Unified School District
  • Healdsburg Unified School District
  • Rincon Valley Union School District, specific schools only: Whited Elementary, Binkley Elementary, Madrone Elementary, Sequoia Elementary, Rincon Valley Charter School - Sequoia Campus, Austin Creek Elementary
  • Santa Rosa City Schools District, specific schools only: Hidden Valley Elementary, Santa Rosa Accelerated Charter, Rincon Valley Middle, Maria Carrillo High School

The power shutoffs were prompted by forecasts for high fire danger. Strong winds, low humidity and dry vegetation spurred the National Weather Service to issue a red flag warning in eight Bay Area counties. Here's when the warning will be in effect:

  • Solano County: 8 a.m. Wednesday - 4 p.m. Thursday
  • Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties: 12 p.m. Wednesday - 4 p.m. Thursday
  • Parts of Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties: 3 p.m. Wednesday - 4 p.m. Thursday
  • Parts of San Mateo County: 7 p.m. Wednesday - 4 p.m. Thursday
The lights are out once again in parts of Northern California. PG&E began shutting off the power late Wednesday afternoon. NBC Bay Area’s Jodi Hernandez reports.

PG&E officials said that once wind subsides they will inspect the lines where power has been cut to check for damage caused by the extreme winds. Once the lines have passed inspection, power will be restored. These inspections must take place, for the most part, during daylight hours. PG&E has said that the goal will be to restore power to the majority of customers within 48 hours after the dangerous fire weather has passed.

PG&E cut power to more than 2 million people across the Bay Area in rolling blackouts from Oct. 9-12, paralyzing parts of the region in what was the largest deliberate blackout in state history. Schools and universities canceled classes and many businesses were forced to close.

California Gov. Gavin sent a sharply worded letter Tuesday to Bill Johnson, PG&E's CEO, blaming the unprecedented mass outage earlier this month on the company's failure to maintain and upgrade its equipment.

"I believe the unacceptable scope and duration of the previous outage _ deliberately forcing 735,000 customers to endure power outages _ was the direct result of decades of PG&E prioritizing profit over public safety," Newsom wrote, referring to the number of businesses and households affected, not the total number of people.

PG&E says the shutdowns are not about money.

The only goal "is to prevent a catastrophic wildfire," Johnson said in a Tuesday briefing.

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