PG&E’s largest ever precautionary power cut-off to reduce its exposure to wildfire liabilities that could impact more than 600,000 people if it does occur, will only affect 51 San Joaquin County residents.
The impacted area is the rural area known as Vernalis southwest of Manteca starting about a half mile south of where Jimmy’s general store and restaurant can be found once you cross the river on Airport Way. The potential outage area extends southward into Stanislaus County covering the small communities of Grayson and Westley.
PG&E on Monday said it may begin implementing a planned Public Safety Power Shutoff starting early Wednesday morning that could impact more than 600,000 customers in 28 counties. Based on the weather forecast that calls for dry winds with gusts in some areas up to 45 mph coupled with low humidity, hot temperatures and heavy fuel conditions (weed growth and dry vegetation), PG&E is prepared to pull the plug on power in areas where peak winds will start early Wednesday morning and last through mid-Thursday afternoon.
The City of Manteca Monday emphasized that information provided by PG&E to San Joaquin County Operations of Emergency Services personnel that Manteca along with virtually all of San Joaquin County will not be impacted this time around. The 51 people represent less than 0.007 percent of the county’s population.
Power could be cut to much of the foothills to the east — Sonora, Jackson, Copperopolis, Angels Camp, and Columbia to name a few communities — with the closest outage starting just past Knights Ferry near Oakdale.
Should part of the Bay Area indicated as areas where the power may be turned off as a precaution actually find themselves without electricity, commuters Wednesday evening and early Thursday could find themselves traveling Interstate 580 between Pleasanton and Hayward as well as part of Interstate 680 between Pleasanton and San Jose passing through areas that will be in darkness.
“This is shaping up to be one of the most severe dry wind events we’ve seen in our territory in recent years and we want our customers to be prepared for an extended outage that may last several days. Our meteorological and operations teams continue to actively monitor the weather and this evolving situation, and we are working directly with state and local agencies to help prepare our customers and the public for this safety event,” said Michael Lewis, Senior Vice President, PG&E Electric Operations. “We want our customers to be aware that, based on this number, it could take several days to fully restore power after the weather passes and safety inspections are completed.”
Customers may be affected by a power shutoff even though they are not experiencing extreme weather conditions in their specific location because the electric system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity across cities, counties and regions.
PG&E implemented the shut off plans after they conceded their equipment in similar conditions as expected on Wednesday and Thursday likely started the Butte County last November that killed 85 people, destroyed 14,000 homes and burned 5,000 structures.
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