Most Customers Who Lost Power Due to Winter Storm Have Been Restored
More than 2,000 PG&E and Contract Workers Deployed on Storm Response
Second Storm Arriving Wednesday Could Bring More Low Snow, Additional Customer Impacts
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) crews today continue to assess damage, make repairs and restore service to customers after the first of two winter storms battered much of Northern and Central California Sunday and Monday.
As of 2 p.m. today, 90 percent of the 247,000 customers who lost power have been restored. Approximately 27,000 customers remained without power, as heavy snow, road closures, downed trees, and other access issues are impeding the ability of PG&E crews to make repairs in some areas. The company is working diligently to overcome those challenges safely and as quickly as local conditions will allow.
“We know outages for any reason are frustrating and inconvenient, particularly when daylight is short and temperatures low,” said Mark Quinlan, PG&E Incident Commander for the company’s storm readiness and response. “We see what our customers are dealing with. We are doing everything we can to help, and we won’t stop until everyone’s power is back on.”
Snow, ice, and cold temperature are creating additional challenges in some cases. For example, snow loading, which occurs when snow accumulates on tree branches or powerlines, has created hazards and outage problems in the North Valley and Sierra Nevada areas. A secondary problem can result when such accumulated snow suddenly drops to the ground, creating new hazards and complicating repairs.
More than 20 inches of snow was reported in the Echo Summit area (El Dorado County) and the National Weather Service’s Winter Storm Warning forecast as much as six feet or more in higher elevations. The storm also brought strong winds and driving rain to much of PG&E’s service area. Gusts of more than 70 mph were recorded in 10 counties, including Amador, Madera and Placer counties where they exceeded 100 mph. Weather stations in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties measured more than nine inches of rain as of Monday night.
After a short respite, another storm is expected to move through California early Wednesday into Thursday. Although forecast to be weaker than the Sunday-Monday storm, this second event will bring low-altitude snow across the Northern Coastal Range and Sierra Nevada, along with moderate rainfall and breezy to gusty southerly winds across the northern and central portions of PG&E’s service area.
Restoration Efforts and Preparation
PG&E has 332 crews available to make repairs and restore power – crews typically are three, four or five people. Additionally, 322 Troublemen, the utility industry’s first responders, and 431 vegetation management workers are responding to the storm. The company’s Emergency Operations Center is activated along with local and regional storm centers.
PG&E has established two microsites in Santa Cruz and Grass Valley to stage crews and equipment to speed storm response and power restoration.
Keeping Customers Informed
PG&E knows how important it is to keep its customers informed. Customers can view real-time outage information on its website outage center and search by a specific address, by city or by county. This site has been updated to include in-language support for 16 languages.
Additionally, customers can sign up for outage notifications by text, email or phone. PG&E will inform customers about the cause of an outage, when crews are on their way, the estimated restoration time, and when power is restored.
Storm Safety Tips
- Never touch downed wires: If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and extremely dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it—and keep children and animals away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 9-1-1 and by calling PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
- Gas and electric safety if flooding occurs. If a customer’s home or business is threatened by rising waters, turn off all gas appliances, or close gas appliance valves with a one-quarter turn. If you are unable to shut gas appliances off, turn your gas service off at the meter by using a wrench or other suitable tool to give the valve a one-quarter turn in either direction until it is perpendicular to the pipe. To shut off electricity, locate the main switch at the electric panel and turn the switch off. Never touch electrical equipment with wet hands or while standing in water. Once floodwaters recede, PG&E will restore gas and electric service to the community. When returning to their homes, customers should not attempt to turn on their gas or electricity. They should contact PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to request that their services be restored.
- Use generators safely: Customers with standby electric generators should make sure they are properly installed by a licensed electrician in a well-ventilated area. Improperly installed generators pose a significant danger to customers, as well as crews working on power lines. If using portable generators, be sure they are in a well-ventilated area.
- Use flashlights, not candles: During a power outage, use battery-operated flashlights, and not candles, due to the risk of fire. And keep extra batteries on hand. If you must use candles, please keep them away from drapes, lampshades, animals, and small children. Do not leave candles unattended.
- Have a backup phone: If you have a telephone system that requires electricity to work, such as a cordless phone or answering machine, plan to have a standard telephone or cellular phone ready as a backup. Having a portable charging device helps to keep your cell phone running.
- Have fresh drinking water, ice: Freeze plastic containers filled with water to make blocks of ice that can be placed in your refrigerator/freezer during an outage to prevent foods from spoiling. Blue Ice from your picnic cooler also works well in the freezer.
- Secure outdoor furniture: Deck furniture, lightweight yard structures and decorative lawn items should be secured as they can be blown by high winds and damage overhead power lines and property.
- Turn off appliances: If you experience an outage, unplug, or turn off all electrical appliances to avoid overloading circuits and to prevent fire hazards when power is restored. Simply leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
- Safely clean up: After the storm has passed, be sure to safely clean up. Never touch downed wires and always call 8-1-1 or visit 811express.com at least two full business days before digging to have all underground utilities safely marked.
Other tips can be found at www.pge.com/beprepared.
PG&E, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.