Beginning with the 2019 wildfire season, PG&E is expanding their Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program to include all electric lines that pass through high fire-threat areas – both distribution and transmission.
As part of the statewide Power of Being Prepared campaign to prepare Californians for the threat of extreme weather and power outages during times of increased wildfire danger, PG&E is reaching out to approximately 5 million customers to ask them to update their contact information at pge.com/mywildfirealerts and prepare for public safety power outages.
The most likely electric lines to be considered for shutting off for safety will be those that pass through areas that have been designated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) as “elevated” (Tier 2) or “extreme” (Tier 3) risk for wildfire. San Joaquin County does not have Tier 2 or Tier 3 areas, but because the energy system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity, PG&E customers in Tracy, Manteca, Lathrop, Escalon, Ripon, Oakdale, and Stockton could potentially be affected by power outages if transmission lines serving the area pass through an area that is experiencing extreme fire danger conditions.
PG&E’s goal is to provide customers with advance notice prior to turning off power and provide updates until power is restored. Customer notifications will be made through calls, texts and emails. PG&E plans to also use social media (@PGE4Me on Twitter) and keep local news and radio outlets informed and updated. In the case of a PSPS, PG&E expects to be able to visually inspect the system for damage and restore power to most customers within 24-48 hours after extreme weather has passed. Because extreme weather can last several hours or days, they are suggesting customers prepare for outages that could last longer than 48 hours for planning purposes.
“We know how much our customers rely on electric service. Proactively turning off power is a highly complex issue with significant public safety risks on both sides – all of which need to be carefully considered and addressed,” said Michael Lewis, PG&E Electric Operations Senior Vice President in a statement. “We understand and appreciate that turning off the power affects first responders and the operation of critical facilities, communications systems and much more. We will only turn off power for public safety and only as a last resort to keep our customers and communities safe.”
PG&E is conducting additional outreach to customers who are enrolled in PG&E’s Medical Baseline Program, which provides additional energy at the lowest price for customers who are dependent on life-support equipment and/or require special heating or cooling needs for certain medical conditions. Customers in high fire-threat areas are also being targeted for additional outreach.
A PG&E wildfire safety open house for San Joaquin & Amador County is being held on Thursday, June 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the City of Jackson Civic Center (33 Broadway, Jackson). According to their website, webinars will be available for those who are unable to attend an event in person.
At this time, PG&E customers are encouraged to:
uUpdate contact information by visiting pge.com/mywildfirealerts or call 1-866-743-6589 during normal business hours to receive alerts directly from PG&E through automated calls, texts and emails, when and where possible, prior to a PSPS.
uPlan for medical needs like medications that require refrigeration or devices that need power.
uIdentify backup charging methods for phones and keep hard copies of emergency numbers.
uBuild or restock emergency kits with flashlights, fresh batteries, first aid supplies and cash.
uKnow how to manually open garage doors.
For more information, please visit pge.com/wildfiresafety.