What you need to know about PG&E’s planned shut-offs in North Bay

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PG&E Tuesday afternoon outlined its largest‑ever rollout of planned power outages to limit the risk of its electrical equipment sparking wildfires. The notice — larger than initially predicted by the power company — comes on the two-year anniversary of the North Bay wildfires, but this series of outages will affect a much wider area of about 30 counties across Northern and Central California, home to millions of residents. This report contains the latest on what you need to know about PG&E’s power shutoffs and the weather forecast developing for this week.

Who is affected?

More than 800,000 PG&E customers in 34 counties across Northern and Central California. PG&E will shut off power starting around midnight Tuesday or early Wednesday as a way to limit the risk of electrical equipment sparking fires.

The affected households and businesses include 66,289 customers in Sonoma County, 26,430 customers in Lake county and 32,124 in Napa County and 6,000 in Mendocino County. The number of affected people is far greater, equating to more than 250,000 residents.

Planned outage maps issued early Tuesday — which are subject to change — show most of the Sonoma County outages would affect customers from all or part of Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Petaluma, Healdsburg, Cloverdale, Glen Ellen, Penngrove, Geyserville, Kenwood, Rohnert Park, Windsor, Annapolis, Stewarts Point, Cotati, Larkfield, El Verano, Boyes Hot Springs and Fulton.

The bulk of the outages are east of Highway 101, including all of the Sonoma Valley.

SMART plans to continue its regular weekday train schedule, including stops at stations without power, but said passengers should expect delays.

The City of Santa Rosa said water and sewer services will not be affected by the outage, as the system is supported by back-up generators and diesel pumps. The city said, however, that residents with private wells, private water pumps or a private sewer grinder may be affected if they don’t have a back-up power supply.

Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport falls within PG&E’s current planned outage area, though county staff anticipates only minor impacts. A generator will be reserved for main operations and commercial flights are expected to continue as scheduled. However, TSA security will shift over to manual screenings and passengers are encouraged to arrive to the airport early.

TSA or individual airlines may still choose to cancel flights, said county spokeswoman Maggie Fleming. Passengers should check with their individual carriers before heading to the airport, she said.

When will the outages start?

PG&E will start shutting down power after midnight Tuesday into Wednesday morning.

When will power be back on?

Once the fire weather eases — possibly Thursday afternoon — utility crews will assess lines for damage and work on repairs. Customers in populated areas where there was no equipment damage could see power restored fairly soon. Depending on the extent of the damage, repairs to more rural, less populated areas could take time and PG&E officials warn it could be five days once the weather hazard has passed.

What is the latest weather forecast?

The red flag warning, indicating weather that can pose extreme fire danger, is in effect from 5 a.m. Wednesday to 5 p.m. Thursday for the North Bay and East Bay mountains and valleys as well as the Santa Cruz mountains. Forecasts call for winds at the highest elections of 65‑75 mph but also gusting winds in the valleys, such as Santa Rosa where gusts could reach 30 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

The forecasting agency warned the region could see the strongest offshore winds since the October 2017 firestorm. The map below shows which direction the wind is blowing.

Where can I get more information about the outages?

PG&E officials updated maps early Tuesday to better illustrate the proposed outages. Maps and other details are available on pge.com. PG&E has reported problems maintaining its website Tuesday amid high traffic. The Press Democrat has published PG&E’s map providing a more detailed look at planned outages in our coverage area.

Will my child’s school be open?

Many Sonoma County school districts will close Wednesday due to the outages, and some for additional days.

Seven Santa Rosa City Schools in the outage zone will be closed Wednesday, including Maria Carrillo High, Rincon Valley Middle, Santa Rosa Accelerated Charter, Santa Rosa Middle, Hidden Valley Elementary, Proctor Terrace Elementary and Lewis Education Center. The district said the schools will likely remain closed Thursday and Friday, since it may take up to 48 hours or longer for PG&E to restore power to all affected customers.

Bennett Valley Union School District, Victory Christian Academy, Cloverdale Unified School District, West Side Union School District, Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District, Geyserville Unified School District, Horicon School District, Kashia School District, Piner-Olivet Union School District and Credo High Charter will all close Wednesday. The Sonoma Mountain and Old Adobe charter schools will also be closed Wednesday.

The Sonoma County Office of Education Skylane campus, El Colegio preschool and Transition classes will be closed Wednesday. The Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State University will also close all campuses Wednesday, for an undetermined period of time.

Sonoma Valley Unified School District will be closed Wednesday through Friday. Alexander Valley will be closed Wednesday and Thursday.

The Rincon Valley School District will be closed Wednesday, and decisions about closures for Thursday and Friday are still pending.

Windsor Unified School District and Mark West Union School District will close Wednesday and possibly Thursday. The Waugh School District will be closed Wednesday, and will have non-student days Thursday and Friday, with teachers still running conferences.

Check back today for more information as this story is updated.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Writer Chantelle Lee at 707-521-5337 or chantelle.lee@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ChantelleHLee.

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