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Update: PG&E crews inspecting power lines before service is restored in San Mateo County

Utility warns a larger blackout could happen this weekend

About 1,000 customers in San Mateo County, including portions of Woodside, lost power around 1 a.m. today (Oct. 24) as part of PG&E's planned fire danger-related power shutoff, according to the utility.

Woodside Town Manager Kevin Bryant said Wednesday afternoon that most of the households in town that would lose power are near the Highway 84 and Skyline Boulevard intersection. The shutoff is also affecting PG&E customers in La Honda, San Gregorio and unincorporated San Mateo County.

PG&E said in a tweet around 3:30 p.m. that it has received the weather "all clear" for San Mateo County and that crews are inspecting lines for potential damage before restoring power.

"PG&E will safely restore power in stages as quickly as possible, with the goal of restoring the vast majority of customers within 48 hours after the weather has passed," the utility said in a press release Wednesday.

PG&E confirmed Wednesday that it would cut off power to approximately 179,000 customers in 17 Northern California counties. The utility had initially said Monday afternoon that nearly 6,500 customers throughout San Mateo County, including Portola Valley, and about 209,000 in 15 counties could lose power. PG&E cited changing weather conditions and being able to sectionalize certain power lines in reducing the number of customers that would lose power from 209,000 to 179,000.

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PG&E President and CEO William Johnson said the company has set up a sister website where customers can determine whether their power is off or whether it could go off in a future blackout. That website is at psps.ss.pge.com/.

A community resource center, where people can find restrooms, bottled water, air-conditioned seating and chargers, is open at the La Honda Fire Brigade, 8945 La Honda Road in La Honda. It will remain open through the shutoff from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

La Honda along Highway 84 in western San Mateo County also lost power at 1 a.m. Thursday, but the power came back up at 2:26 p.m., said Ari Delay, chief of the all-volunteer La Honda Fire Brigade.

Around a dozen residents had come by to access the center as of Thursday afternoon, he said.

Firefighters also responded to a roadside fire along Skyline Boulevard near Kings Mountain shortly before 4 p.m. today that was quickly extinguished, according to a tweet from CalFire.

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The Mountain House Restaurant on Skyline Boulevard in Woodside lost power early Thursday and the power was still out at 3 p.m., according to owner Jerry Olson.

The restaurant is on backup power with a generator, but the landline phone is out, which has played havoc with reservations, Olson said.

"We're used to power outages when it's cold and wet, but it's unusual to have them during a heat wave," he said.

Just short of 15,000 customers in San Mateo County lost power during a planned shutoff earlier this month, and those in Portola Valley and Woodside who lost power then generally had it restored within about 24 hours.

The shutoff is in response to a dry, offshore wind event, PG&E officials said. It is intended to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire ignitions from its energized power lines that could fall during inclement weather.

Customers were notified by text and automated phone calls starting Monday afternoon, and PG&E said an employee would knock on the doors of customers with medical issues who are enrolled in its Medical Baseline program.

The officials said its meteorological and operations teams' models show wind gusts could exceed 55 mph through Thursday afternoon for portions of the Sierra foothills. Winds between 35 and 45 mph with some 55 mph gusts in localized areas are forecast for Sonoma and Napa counties.

Similar weather patterns prompted PG&E to proactively shut off power for hundreds of thousands of customers starting on Oct. 9. Many streets in Portola Valley and Woodside lost power in that shutoff, and schools in the Portola Valley Elementary School District were closed Oct. 10 as a result.

The San Mateo County Office of Education reported that no public schools closed as a result of the shutoff today.

PG&E announced earlier this year that it was starting the public safety power shutoff program as a precautionary measure during windy and dry conditions. The utility has faced harsh scrutiny for its role in the devastating wildfires in Northern California in the last two years.

Kincade Fire

A fire in Sonoma County that started Wednesday night, the Kincade Fire, has prompted evacuations and burned 10,000 acres as of Thursday morning.

Sonoma County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Juan Valencia said there are no reports of injuries. The blaze was first reported at about 9:30 p.m. in rural Sonoma County off Kincade Road east of Cloverdale.

A PG&E spokesperson said the company is aware of the blaze and that power had been cut to 27,837 customers in the area around 3 p.m. Wednesday for the shutoff.

"The Kincade fire is near the PSPS footprint, and we are working to gather additional information," the statement read.

A Geyserville Fire Protection District Facebook post reported that power lines were reported down at the time of the blaze, but a PG&E spokesperson couldn't confirm or deny if there had been reports of downed power lines in the area prior to the fire and referred questions to Cal Fire.

Weekend shutoff?

PG&E's website currently indicates an elevated potential for a power shutoff in San Mateo County this Sunday and Monday. According to the utility, that means "an upcoming event (a period of gusty winds, dry conditions, heightened risk) is being monitored for an increased potential of a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event."

"Another offshore wind event is then possible Sunday into Monday and may impact locations generally north of Monterey to Yosemite line," PG&E said Wednesday. "Details around this event remain unclear, but it has the potential to be as strong or stronger than recent events. In addition, dead fuel moistures will decrease significantly in the first event today and tomorrow, setting the stage to be critically dry and very susceptible to fire for the weekend event."

Any customers impacted by the current shutoff will have their power restored before another potential blackout this weekend, PG&E said.

Related stories:

PG&E warns of possible power shutoff in Woodside, Portola Valley

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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Update: PG&E crews inspecting power lines before service is restored in San Mateo County

Utility warns a larger blackout could happen this weekend

by Julia Brown and Rick Radin / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Oct 24, 2019, 8:02 am
Updated: Thu, Oct 24, 2019, 4:50 pm

About 1,000 customers in San Mateo County, including portions of Woodside, lost power around 1 a.m. today (Oct. 24) as part of PG&E's planned fire danger-related power shutoff, according to the utility.

Woodside Town Manager Kevin Bryant said Wednesday afternoon that most of the households in town that would lose power are near the Highway 84 and Skyline Boulevard intersection. The shutoff is also affecting PG&E customers in La Honda, San Gregorio and unincorporated San Mateo County.

PG&E said in a tweet around 3:30 p.m. that it has received the weather "all clear" for San Mateo County and that crews are inspecting lines for potential damage before restoring power.

"PG&E will safely restore power in stages as quickly as possible, with the goal of restoring the vast majority of customers within 48 hours after the weather has passed," the utility said in a press release Wednesday.

PG&E confirmed Wednesday that it would cut off power to approximately 179,000 customers in 17 Northern California counties. The utility had initially said Monday afternoon that nearly 6,500 customers throughout San Mateo County, including Portola Valley, and about 209,000 in 15 counties could lose power. PG&E cited changing weather conditions and being able to sectionalize certain power lines in reducing the number of customers that would lose power from 209,000 to 179,000.

PG&E President and CEO William Johnson said the company has set up a sister website where customers can determine whether their power is off or whether it could go off in a future blackout. That website is at psps.ss.pge.com/.

A community resource center, where people can find restrooms, bottled water, air-conditioned seating and chargers, is open at the La Honda Fire Brigade, 8945 La Honda Road in La Honda. It will remain open through the shutoff from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

La Honda along Highway 84 in western San Mateo County also lost power at 1 a.m. Thursday, but the power came back up at 2:26 p.m., said Ari Delay, chief of the all-volunteer La Honda Fire Brigade.

Around a dozen residents had come by to access the center as of Thursday afternoon, he said.

Firefighters also responded to a roadside fire along Skyline Boulevard near Kings Mountain shortly before 4 p.m. today that was quickly extinguished, according to a tweet from CalFire.

The Mountain House Restaurant on Skyline Boulevard in Woodside lost power early Thursday and the power was still out at 3 p.m., according to owner Jerry Olson.

The restaurant is on backup power with a generator, but the landline phone is out, which has played havoc with reservations, Olson said.

"We're used to power outages when it's cold and wet, but it's unusual to have them during a heat wave," he said.

Just short of 15,000 customers in San Mateo County lost power during a planned shutoff earlier this month, and those in Portola Valley and Woodside who lost power then generally had it restored within about 24 hours.

The shutoff is in response to a dry, offshore wind event, PG&E officials said. It is intended to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire ignitions from its energized power lines that could fall during inclement weather.

Customers were notified by text and automated phone calls starting Monday afternoon, and PG&E said an employee would knock on the doors of customers with medical issues who are enrolled in its Medical Baseline program.

The officials said its meteorological and operations teams' models show wind gusts could exceed 55 mph through Thursday afternoon for portions of the Sierra foothills. Winds between 35 and 45 mph with some 55 mph gusts in localized areas are forecast for Sonoma and Napa counties.

Similar weather patterns prompted PG&E to proactively shut off power for hundreds of thousands of customers starting on Oct. 9. Many streets in Portola Valley and Woodside lost power in that shutoff, and schools in the Portola Valley Elementary School District were closed Oct. 10 as a result.

The San Mateo County Office of Education reported that no public schools closed as a result of the shutoff today.

PG&E announced earlier this year that it was starting the public safety power shutoff program as a precautionary measure during windy and dry conditions. The utility has faced harsh scrutiny for its role in the devastating wildfires in Northern California in the last two years.

Kincade Fire

A fire in Sonoma County that started Wednesday night, the Kincade Fire, has prompted evacuations and burned 10,000 acres as of Thursday morning.

Sonoma County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Juan Valencia said there are no reports of injuries. The blaze was first reported at about 9:30 p.m. in rural Sonoma County off Kincade Road east of Cloverdale.

A PG&E spokesperson said the company is aware of the blaze and that power had been cut to 27,837 customers in the area around 3 p.m. Wednesday for the shutoff.

"The Kincade fire is near the PSPS footprint, and we are working to gather additional information," the statement read.

A Geyserville Fire Protection District Facebook post reported that power lines were reported down at the time of the blaze, but a PG&E spokesperson couldn't confirm or deny if there had been reports of downed power lines in the area prior to the fire and referred questions to Cal Fire.

Weekend shutoff?

PG&E's website currently indicates an elevated potential for a power shutoff in San Mateo County this Sunday and Monday. According to the utility, that means "an upcoming event (a period of gusty winds, dry conditions, heightened risk) is being monitored for an increased potential of a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) event."

"Another offshore wind event is then possible Sunday into Monday and may impact locations generally north of Monterey to Yosemite line," PG&E said Wednesday. "Details around this event remain unclear, but it has the potential to be as strong or stronger than recent events. In addition, dead fuel moistures will decrease significantly in the first event today and tomorrow, setting the stage to be critically dry and very susceptible to fire for the weekend event."

Any customers impacted by the current shutoff will have their power restored before another potential blackout this weekend, PG&E said.

Related stories:

PG&E warns of possible power shutoff in Woodside, Portola Valley

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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