As Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) continues to improve vital safety communications for customers that will be used before turning off power to prevent wildfires during severe weather, the company has enhanced its notifications to provide more detail about when power is expected to go out, when it may be restored and where customers can go to find additional information.
In response to direct customer feedback requesting more information as soon as possible to ensure they have time to prepare and plan in advance of a potential Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event, PG&E will provide Watch and Warning notifications this year.
Whenever possible, an initial Watch notification will be sent two days in advance of a potential PSPS event, followed by an additional Watch notification one day before the potential PSPS event, notifying customers of the possibility of a PSPS event in their area based on forecasted conditions.
A PSPS Watch will be upgraded to a Warning when forecasted conditions show that a safety shutoff will be needed, and that it is going to happen soon. Whenever possible, Warning notifications will be sent approximately four to 12 hours in advance of the power being shutoff.
Both Watch and Warning notifications are directly tied to weather forecasts, which can change rapidly. For example, predicting the time and area of landfall for tropical storms and hurricanes in the southeast United States.
As an example of how notifications have been improved for 2020, customers will see an estimated time when their power will be restored two days before it goes out. Last year, that estimated time of restoration wasn’t provided until the power had been turned off.
Watch and Warning alerts will be issued via automated calls, texts and emails. Both Watch and Warning alerts have been enhanced since 2019, tested with customers, adjusted based on their feedback, and will now provide new essential information, including:
Your address so you know you’re getting the accurate information for your home.
The date and time when power is estimated to be shut off. (For example, between 6 and 10 p.m. on Oct. 7.)
The estimated date and time when we expect power will be restored. (For example, by 4 p.m. on Oct. 9)
When power is turned off, PG&E will provide updates to customers at least once a day until power is restored. Power will remain off until the weather has passed, and equipment has been inspected. PG&E is seeking to cut restoration times in half compared to 2019 so that power is restored to the majority of customers within 12 daylight hours after severe weather has passed. PG&E will send a final notification once power has been restored.
“Regardless of reason, we understand how disruptive it is for our customers to be without power. This year will be even more challenging as many of us will need to shelter-at-home in response to COVID-19,” said Laurie Giammona, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer for PG&E. “Our goal is to improve our PSPS notifications to help customers plan for an outage when we need to turn off power to reduce the risk of a major wildfire.”
Customers are encouraged to update their contact information and indicate their preferred language for notifications by visiting www.pge.com/mywildfirealerts or by calling 1-800-742-5000, where in-language support is available.
Tenants and non-account holders can sign up to receive PSPS ZIP Code Alerts for any area where you don’t have a PG&E account by visiting www.pge.com/pspszipcodealerts.
PG&E has launched a new tool on our online Safety Action Center (www.safetyactioncenter.pge.com) to help customers prepare. By using the “Make Your Own Emergency Plan” tool and answering a few short questions, visitors to the website can compile and organize the important information needed for a s personalized family emergency plan. This includes phone numbers, escape routes and a family meeting location if an evacuation is necessary.
Smaller, shorter, smarter PSPS events
Here’s how PG&E is working to make PSPS events smaller in size, shorter in length and smarter for customers.
Smaller in Size: PG&E is upgrading its electric system to prevent wildfires and reduce the impact of future PSPS events on our customers. The company’s efforts this year are expected to reduce the number of customers affected by a potential PSPS event by about one-third compared to a similar weather event last year.
Shorter in Length: PG&E is seeking to cut restoration times in half compared to 2019 so that power is restored to the majority of customers within 12 daylight hours after severe weather has passed.
Smarter for Customers: PG&E is working to provide better information and resources to customers and communities before, during and after a PSPS event, including delivering more assistance and outreach to help vulnerable customers. This smarter approach will include giving customers alerts with information about when power will be turned off and back on and upgrading Community Resource Centers (CRCs) so that customers without power have a place to go for device-charging and other basic needs. PG&E remains flexible with CRC deployment plans to adjust to the COVID-19 restrictions and best practices.
For more information on PG&E’s wildfire safety efforts, visit pge.com/wildfiresafety.