18 counties could lose power in northern California to prevent wildfires from spreading

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Published Wednesday, August 18, 2021
by Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) - With high winds forecast in Northern California, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said it plans to cut power Tuesday in 18 counties. Shutting off power would impact roughly 48,000 customers.

Strong winds are expected to blow through the region Tuesday night, potentially hitting 35 mph, which PG&E says could potentially down power lines. Turning off power would mitigate risk if power lines were to fall on dry brush and spark wildfires.

Northern California's Dixie Fire, which began July 13 and is now the second-largest wildfire in California history, has burned 569,707 acres, as of Monday, Cal Fire reports. It has destroyed more than 1,173 structures, more than $1 billion worth of timber, and obliterated the historic mining town of Greenville. Officials report it is currently threatening 14,800 additional structures.

The 18 counties affected by the potential power outage include:

  • Butte County: 11,114 customers, 1,027 medical baseline customers
  • Colusa County: 509 customers, 33 medical baseline customers
  • Glenn County: 207 customers, 10 medical baseline customers
  • Humboldt County: 681 customers, 16 medical baseline customers
  • Lake County: 2,083 customers, 136 medical baseline customers
  • Lassen County: 65 customers, 7 medical baseline customers
  • Mendocino County: 669 customers, 30 medical baseline customers
  • Napa County: 2,041 customers, 99 medical baseline customers
  • Nevada County: 133 customers, 3 medical baseline customers
  • Plumas County: 660 customers, 24 medical baseline customers
  • Shasta County: 19,999 customers, 1,713 medical baseline customers
  • Sierra County: 1,036 customers, 30 medical baseline customers
  • Solano County: 44 customers, 0 medical baseline customers
  • Sonoma County: 240 customers, 9 medical baseline customers
  • Tehama County: 7,473 customers, 671 medical baseline customers
  • Trinity County: 428 customers, 21 medical baseline customers
  • Yolo County: 11 customers, 0 medical baseline customers
  • Yuba County: 487 customers, 47 medical baseline customers

The majority of customers affected, roughly 31,000, live in Butte and Shasta counties.

Residents can look up their address at www.pge.com/pspsupdates for potential scheduled safety shutoffs.

The National Weather Service issued a fire weather watch warning of elevated wildfire risk due to high winds in the North Bay interior mountains and East Bay hills above 1,000 feet, with the northeast hills of Napa County experiencing the greatest threat. Sonoma, Marin and Santa Clara regions face less of a threat, the weather service said.

PG&E considers a range of factors when deciding to cut power. They include humidity levels at 30% and below, forecasts of sustained winds above 20 mph and isolated wind gusts above 30 mph to 40 mph, vegetation with low moisture content, red flag warnings issued by The National Weather Service, and recommendations made by PG&E's Wildfire Safety Operations Center.

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