PG&E shuts off power to 940,000 as CA wildfires rage

Millions of Californians were without power Sunday as Pacific Gas and Electric Co. implemented its largest-ever blackout to prevent wildfires during high and hot winds, Kallanish Energy reports.

The outages extend from parts of California’s Humboldt County to the Salinas Valley and were expected to reach a portion of the state’s Kern County by Sunday night, as PG&E tries to contain wildfire risk during wind gusts that reached 93 mph at one point in Sonoma County.

PG&E began cutting electricity for more than 2.5 million people Saturday night. In the nine-county Bay Area, 1.3 million people — about 447,000 customers — are subjected to the blackouts. That’s about one in every six Bay Area residents, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The lights could start coming back on as soon as today, according to the company. But the timing will vary because PG&E needs to visually look for damage to its equipment before restoring power.

“We are definitely trying to get customers back as quickly as possible,” company spokesman Paul Doherty told the Chronicle.

Further complicating matters is another wind forecast that may prompt PG&E to turn off power yet another time this week. The company says it is monitoring offshore winds arriving Tuesday and has predicted an “elevated” chance of outages in six of nine zones in its service territory that day.

The weekend’s blackouts mark the third time in one month PG&E has asked many of its customers to go without electricity for an extended period of time.

The outages are already having a far-reaching effect on the Bay Area — including Sonoma County, where the Kincade Fire is burning in the Mayacamas Mountains east of Geyserville, California.

Much of the county is in the dark, and officials in Marin County expected most PG&E customers there to lose power.

The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center characterized Sunday’s weather as “very dangerous” for the Bay Area and Northern Sacramento Valley.

The weather service said a red-flag warning for dangerously strong winds and critically low humidity was in effect for the North Bay and East Bay from 8 p.m. Saturday to 11 a.m. Monday, and for the Peninsula coast and the Santa Cruz Mountains from 3 a.m. Sunday to 11 a.m. Monday.

This post appeared first on Kallanish Energy News.