SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — State fire officials are warning people to be vigilant as high, dry winds are expected throughout the Sacramento Valley this weekend.

“Don’t be complacent because we’re still in the thick of things,” said Scott McLean with Cal Fire. “These winds will push vegetation fires this weekend if something does start.”

The blustery conditions have ignited the conversation about proactively shutting off power to electrical lines during windstorms.

This week, fire investigators in Santa Rosa determined it was PG&E power lines blowing in high winds that sparked two small fires during the October wine country disaster.

“We knew there was going to be red flag warning winds,” said state Sen. Bill Dodd.

Dodd says some of the devastation could have been avoided.  He has introduced a bill that would require utility companies to come up with policies and a protocol for when to de-energize power lines in a high wind situation. Right now, there is no standard.

“Had we had something like this in place, we more than likely wouldn’t have had anywhere near the damage or anywhere near the amount of fires that we’ve had in the state of California,” said Dodd.

But cutting power has a ripple effect. It would impact communications, homes, and businesses.

People could lose internet and phone access, businesses would close and emergency responders impacted.

“Safety is always our top priority at PG&E, and we’re constantly evaluating the impacts shutting off our power can have to our customers,” said Brandi Merlo with PG&E.

Power lines weren’t proactively shut off in October, and PG&E doesn’t plan to cut power this weekend either.

“At this time, current weather forecasts do not indicate an immediate need to de-energize parts of our system in the area,” said Merlo.


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