PG&E's website has gone down Tuesday morning due to what the utility said was a "high volume of traffic" from people looking up information related to a possible public safety power shutoff that could affect an estimated 600,000 customers. Those counties are: Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lake, Mariposa, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama, Tuolumne, Yolo and Yuba. "It could take several days to fully restore power after the weather passes and safety inspections are completed".
PG&E said it will continually update customers through calls, texts and emails, as well as via social media and wider media reports.
The utility says power could be shut off in part of almost 30 counties in central and Northern California starting Wednesday and through Thursday, when hot weather and strong winds are forecast. This is because the electric system relies on power lines networked across cities, counties and regions.
The company accounced early this year that if certain weather conditions do occur, they will cut power to areas affected in order to prevent wildfires.
Portions of Kern, Humboldt, Trinity and Marin counties have been added to the potential scope of this PSPS, in addition to the 30 counties identified Monday.More news: New vaping illnesses confirmed in Northeast Ohio
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PG&E will work with state and local agencies to provide updated restoration timelines following the conclusion of the severe weather event.
During such a power shutoff, PG&E may turn off electricity for entire communities, cities or even counties in order to reduce the likelihood of live, damaged power lines igniting dry vegetation and sparking large-scale wildfires.
"Right now our meteorological teams and our operation teams are working together in our emergency operations center to monitor a potentially widespread strong and dry wind event that could happen Wednesday morning through Thursday afternoon", Merlo said.
He also encouraged households to create emergency plans and kits which include food and water for all family members and pets. Never run a portable generator in the garage or in the rain, and never store generator fuel in the house.