SLO County dodges coming power shutoffs, for now

Oct 8, 2019

As of Wednesday, all of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Monterey counties remain off the list for current public safety power shutoffs taking place across the state.

UPDATE 10/9/2019 10 A.M. PG&E says it made a mistake when it included 32 electricity customers in Santa Maria as facing a power shutoff. According to Santa Barbara County spokesperson Gina DePinto, "Santa Barbara County receives power from Southern California Edison (SCE) and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). We are aware that both utilities are in the process of or have initiated Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) protocols for various areas of their service. The impact and scope of these power shutoffs is significant and widespread. However, the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has been actively engaged with both utilities and has been informed that Santa Barbara County is NOT being considered for the current PSPS events. OEM will continue to work with both utilities throughout this week as elevated fire weather and winds continue to impact California." DiPinto said Santa Barbara residents can go to www.ReadySBC.org to learn more about "how to prepare for a potential PSPS event and register to receive notifications from local emergency response agencies should a PSPS event or other disaster occur within the county."

ORIGINAL STORY

The bankrupt energy company Pacific Gas & Electric is shutting down much of its power grid this week because the weather forecast is calling for high winds and dry conditions, ripe for starting wildfires. Gusts up to 55 miles per hour are expected.

32 electricity customers in Santa Maria are facing power outages starting as early as Wednesday morning. PG&E announced its biggest public safety power shutoff so far—affecting 34 California counties and an estimated 800,000 homes and businesses across the state. The blackout could last for days.

Just after midnight on Wednesday, the power shut-off will start at the top of the state and move southward. PG&E says the situation is fluid and will change according to actual weather conditions.

“The power will be turned off to communities in stages, depending on local timing of the severe wind conditions,” according to the company.

But electricity customers are urged to get ready. That means making sure cell phones are charged, getting a battery-powered radio, filling up the car with gas, and placing bottles of water in the freezer, so when the power goes out, the frozen bottles can be used to keep food cool in the refrigerator. Cell phone towers in the affected areas are likely to be down, along with cell phone service.

PG&E spokesperson Mike Mesesan told KCBX News Tuesday afternoon he didn’t have a definitive answer why just 32 customers in Santa Maria are included in the shutoff, but said those customers could be on some type of circuit connected to Kern County. Kern County was added Tuesday to the list of areas targeted for the coming power shutoffs.

”It is very possible that customers may be affected by a power shutoff even though they are not experiencing extreme weather conditions in their specific location,” said Mesesan in a press release. “This is because the electric system relies on power lines working together to provide electricity across cities, counties and regions.”

Click here to see a list of all the areas currently targeted for a public safety power shutoff this week.