Published: Fri, October 11, 2019
Tech | By Anita Cain

Power Cut to Millions as California Faces Heightened Wildfire Risks

Power Cut to Millions as California Faces Heightened Wildfire Risks

The National Weather Service issued a Fire Weather Watch for Wednesday through Thursday across northern portions of California, warning of "potential of rapid spread of fire" and reporting "potentially strong, damaging" winds and relatively low humidity.

While many East Coast residents have learned to cope with power outages from hurricanes, weather-related outages are a relatively new phenomenon in California.

To the south, Southern California Edison said more than 106,000 of its customers in parts of eight counties could face power cuts as early as Thursday as Santa Ana winds loomed.

When the first phase of blackouts began early Wednesday, it affected approximately 513,000 customers in counties such as Humboldt, Lake Marin and Sonoma, PG&E said.

A second phase of the "public safety power shutoff", delayed until the evening, was due to extend power cuts to another 234,000 customers, the utility said, and it was considering a third phase for 42,000 more dwellings and businesses. "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".

All Tesla Supercharger stations in regions affected by California power outages will have Tesla Powerpacks within next few weeks.

The National Weather Service forecast for Westley on Thursday is "a north northwest wind 17 to 22 miles per hour, decreasing to 9 to 14 miles per hour in the afternoon".

The "public safety power shutoffs" initiated by PG&E, SDG&E and Southern California Edison either have or could cut electricity to almost 3 million Californians.

The city of San Francisco isn't covered by PG&E's shutoffs.

Hospitals remained open, using backup generators. Parents of students of private schools should check with their school administration on their power outage plans.

PG&E has hosted a map on its website where customers can check affected areas. CCHS will continue to provide services during the outage.

When the power might be turned back on is undetermined, and depends on when the winds die down.

I haven't seen a poll on the reaction to this preventative power cut yet, but clearly some people are really upset about it. "Hopefully (the outages) are only for a couple days".

Power lines were blamed for one of the worst fire seasons in 2017 and 2018 after dozens of wildfires across the state burned hundreds of thousands of acres, leaving more than 80 people dead and thousands more homeless.

California has suffered a series of deadly wildfires across the state in the last few years, including the Camp Fire, the deadliest in the state's history, which killed 85 people and almost destroyed the town of Paradise.

In the meantime, PG&E has urged customers to enroll in PSPS alerts by zip code by calling 1-877-9000-PGE, or to sign up for text alerts by texting "ENROLL" to 97633. The utility company has stated the shutdown could last for as long as five days, given that all of the area's power lines will need to be inspected after power is restored, reports The New York Times.

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