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PG&E outage could affect about 19,265 Sonoma County customers

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School Closures

According to the Sonoma County Office of Education, the following schools will be closed during the shut-off:

— Santa Rosa City Schools: Maria Carrillo High School, Rincon Valley Middle School, Santa Rosa Accelerated Charter School and Hidden Valley Elementary School will be closed Wednesday, but reopen at 10 a.m. Thursday.

— Rincon Valley Unified School District: Rincon Valley Charter School-Sequoia, Sequoia Elementary School and Austin Creek Elementary School will be closed Wednesday and Thursday.

— Geyserville New Tech Academy and Buena Vista Continuation High School are holding classes at Geyserville Elementary, which will be fully operational.

— Forestville Union School District and Alexander Valley Unified School District will be closed Wednesday and will determine whether to open Thursday.

After warning that a quarter of Sonoma County residents, a number close to the population of Santa Rosa, could lose power Wednesday morning, PG&E greatly scaled back a planned power-shutoff aimed at preventing its equipment from starting wildfires during gusty winds.

The utility said in an announcement around 10 p.m. Tuesday that about 19,265 customers in Sonoma County could lose power beginning at about 6 a.m. That was down from an estimate of 38,376 earlier in the day, a number county officials said translated into about 140,679 people.

The scaled back shut-off would affect PG&E customers in Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Windsor, Sebastopol, Sonoma, Healdsburg, Cloverdale, Calistoga, Camp Meeker, Cazadero, Duncans Mills, Forestville, Geyserville, Glen Ellen, Guerneville, Jenner, Kenwood, Monte Rio, Penngrove, Rio Nido and Villa Grande, said PG&E spokeswoman Deanna Contreras in an email sent at 10 p.m.

PG&E expects dangerous fire weather over the next 24 hours, bringing low humidity and winds of 25 to 30 mph, with stronger gusts high in the hills, said Chris Godley, the county’s emergency management director.

Godley expressed hope that lighter than expected winds would allow the west county to be excluded from the blackout, which is intended to prevent sparks from PG&E equipment igniting another wildfire.

The power shut-offs are expected to start from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wednesday in the area east of Highway 101, then spread in the afternoon to west county, including the lower Russian River area, he said.

PG&E officials estimated North Bay residents in the shut-off zone will lose power between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. Wednesday before peak winds arrive at 10 a.m., the utility’s incident commander Mark Quinlan said.

All told, about 149,000 customers in 18 counties could lose power, Contreras said.

The utility said Tuesday it was issuing 24-hour advance warnings of the outage to about 181,000 customers statewide, a 40 percent reduction from the previous estimate of 303,000 customers in 25 counties.

Six Bay Area counties — Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and San Mateo — were dropped from the potential outage area as a result of “improved weather conditions,” Contreras said.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors received a report Tuesday morning from a PG&E official that the outage would affect 16,000 customers, about 3,000 more than PG&E announced Monday.

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said the county had been notified the planned outage had been scaled back, removing coastal areas of the county. About 1,300 customers are in the revised outage area from McNab Ranch south through Hopland to the Sonoma County line, down from the original estimate of 3,000, the department reported.

Dry, windy weather that brings on a high risk of wildfires is expected to begin Wednesday morning and continue into Thursday, PG&E said. If the wind subsides Thursday, as expected, PG&E will attempt to inspect deenergized lines and restore power to most customers by the end of the day, Contreras said.

The latest map posted by PG&E on Tuesday of the proposed outage in Sonoma County showed pockets of the northeastern county, near where the Kincade fire broke out in October set to lose power, along with a block south of that taking in area east of Healdsburg and Windsor and covering the northeastern parts of Santa Rosa, including parts of Fountaingrove and Rincon Valley.

School Closures

According to the Sonoma County Office of Education, the following schools will be closed during the shut-off:

— Santa Rosa City Schools: Maria Carrillo High School, Rincon Valley Middle School, Santa Rosa Accelerated Charter School and Hidden Valley Elementary School will be closed Wednesday, but reopen at 10 a.m. Thursday.

— Rincon Valley Unified School District: Rincon Valley Charter School-Sequoia, Sequoia Elementary School and Austin Creek Elementary School will be closed Wednesday and Thursday.

— Geyserville New Tech Academy and Buena Vista Continuation High School are holding classes at Geyserville Elementary, which will be fully operational.

— Forestville Union School District and Alexander Valley Unified School District will be closed Wednesday and will determine whether to open Thursday.

In the west county, a large block covered communities including Guerneville, Jenner, Duncans Mills, Cazadero and Bodega Bay.

Although Contreras’ email suggested parts of Petaluma, Sonoma, Healdsburg and Cloverdale could have their power shut off, PG&E’s map did not indicate those areas could lose power.

Noting that PG&E has shut off power to county customers five times since Sept. 25, Godley said he is concerned that residents may not take the notices “as seriously as they might.”

“We need to keep our guard up,” he said, standing in the operations center with about a dozen county staffers working on computers. “We are concerned about fatigue in the community, not just physical but emotional.”

“Stress is cumulative and we’re starting to see that in our community,” Godley said.

There’s also been an economic hit, documented in a consultant’s report released Tuesday by the Sonoma County Economic Development Board estimating lost economic output from the Oct. 9-11 shut-off at $50 million to $70 million, not including lost wages.

Shana Jones, chief of Cal Fire’s Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit, urged residents to be wary of wildfires during the red flag warning conditions, which run from 4 a.m. Wednesday through 7 a.m. Thursday in the North and East Bay hills.

“Wind-driven fires move fast, and residents need to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice,” she said, noting that some of California’s most destructive wildfires occur from October through December.

North winds of 20 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph are likely over higher ground, especially Wednesday night, the National Weather Service said. Gusts could exceed 60 mph over Mount St. Helena.

Fire weather concerns with offshore winds will return early next week, the agency said. The Santa Rosa Fire Department tweeted that it would have additional firefighters on duty from 8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday morning, joining other departments around the county that will staff 19 additional fire engines during the critical fire weather.

PG&E said it will open community resource centers Wednesday in Cloverdale, Santa Rosa, Sea Ranch and Sonoma, providing snacks, ice, blankets, heat, restrooms and digital device-charging stations. The locations are available online at www.pge.com/pspsupdates.

Customers can use an online address lookup tool to find out if their location is in a potential shut-off area at the same page. Information on Sonoma County school closures Wednesday and Thursday can be found at scoe.org/schoolclosures.

Staff Writer Yousef Baig contributed to this report.

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