PG&E calls off potential power outage in Northern California

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After warning customers for two days about a possible power shutdown amid high-risk wildfire conditions, PG&E opted Thursday afternoon to leave the lights on and call off an outage for about 63,000 customers in an eight-county region.

The weather conditions didn’t warrant turning off power, which is part of a new policy intended to prevent accidental wildfires in dry, windy weather, the utility said. PG&E will alert customers who would have been affected.

“We want to thank our customers for their understanding and for their actions in preparation of a possible public safety power shutoff. We know how much our customers rely on electric service, and we will only consider temporarily turning off power in the interest of safety and as a last resort during extreme weather conditions to reduce the risk of wildfire,” Pat Hogan, PG&E’s senior vice president of electric operations, said in a prepared statement.

The potential power outage was originally slated to include about 400 customers in northeast unincorporated Sonoma County, possibly including Knights Valley and unincorporated Calistoga. Those areas were taken off the list early this morning as PG&E was able to reconfigure the flow of power in a potential shutoff, company spokeswoman Deanna Contreras said.

A shutdown would have affected as many 6,800 customers in Lake County including areas in Cobb Mountain, Hidden Valley Lake, Kelseyville, Middletown and Clearlake Oaks and about 2,600 people in Napa County, according to PG&E. The other counties included would have been in the north-central Sierra, she said.

The outage would have been the second time in less than a month if California’s biggest utility cut power to a wide swath of customers in the region under the new policy. PG&E started texting, emailing and calling customers Tuesday night to alert them of the potential outage.

The potential outage coincided with the National Weather Service red flag warning in effect through 7 a.m. Friday that predicts gusty offshore winds and low humidity levels. Cal Fire and Sonoma County fire departments boosted staffing, and have a strike team and task force on hand for a speedy response if a fire starts.

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