This morning, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) electric crews will start patrolling in the air, in vehicles and on foot nearly all the power lines that were de-energized starting on Monday for the Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event. Once lines are inspected and found free of damage or hazards, PG&E can proceed with restoring power to customers.
More than 3,000 PG&E personnel will patrol and inspect some 10,750 miles of transmission and distribution power lines today, which is equivalent to travelling from San Francisco to Tokyo and back.
Patrols start when the severe weather has subsided enough to make it “all clear” for crews on foot and in aircraft to do inspections of lines. Restoration for the vast majority of customers impacted by this PSPS event is expected to be completed by the end of the day Wednesday.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the “all clear” was given for portions of four counties. PG&E meteorologists confirmed the “all clear” for many other counties overnight, meaning ground and helicopter inspections will start at daylight today. The “all clear” for portions of a few remaining counties is expected around 9 a.m. this morning.
Restoration may be delayed for some customers if crews are required to fix significant damage to individual lines, which could be caused by wind-blown branches and other debris. Also, restoration could be slowed if there is too much smoke from nearby fires to permit safe air inspections by PG&E’s helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.
This PSPS decision was necessary because of the significant fire risk posed by the dry, hot weather with very strong winds and dry vegetation. The shutoff impacted approximately 172,000 customers in portions of 22 counties: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Humboldt, Kern, Lake, Lassen, Mariposa, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne and Yuba. In Plumas, Chester, Greenville and portions of Quincy were impacted. Community resource centers were established in each of those communities.
Within the PSPS-affected area, PG&E weather stations registered 40 to 60 mph wind speeds overnight Monday with reports of 66 mph wind gusts in the Northern Sierras. These Diablo winds are strong enough to break tree limbs, blow them into power lines, and cause rapid fire spread. Here are the top wind gusts in five counties during the PSPS event.
|County||Wind Gust Speed||Time / Date||Weather Station|
|Butte||66 mph||9/8 10:13 a.m.||Jarbo Gap|
|Sierra||65 mph||9/8 12:18 p.m.||Saddleback|
|Sonoma||65 mph||9/8 9:50 p.m.||Santa Fe Geothermal|
|Siskiyou||63 mph||9/8 11:52 a.m.||Slater Butte|
|Placer||60 mph||9/8 11:20 a.m.||Cisco Buttes|
PG&E is making PSPS events shorter in duration this year by deploying more PG&E and contractor crews to inspect equipment and restore service. For this event, we have 60 helicopters, one airplane, and more than 3,000 skilled workers available to perform inspections and service restoration to more than 10,000 line-miles of PG&E’s infrastructure, performing inspections and ready to make repairs.
PG&E will strive to inspect and restore power within 12 daylight hours of the weather “all clear.” But given the significance of this high-wind event with gusts as high as 66 mph, crews may find significant damage to facilities, requiring additional time and resources for repair.