Julie Watts Investigates

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — You could be at risk of losing power, even if you don’t live in a high-fire-risk zone.

CBS13 investigated how PG&E’s public safety shut-off program could impact people hundreds of miles away from fire danger.

The utility is expanding its program this season and confirmed Monday anyone could now be impacted by preventive backouts, even if you’re not experiencing fire weather or fire danger.

Last year, PG&E focused on shutting off distribution lines when fire danger was high. Those are the small lines that deliver power to your neighborhood. Shutting off those lines generally only impacts the immediate area.

But this year, they may also shut off the high voltage transmission lines, the larger lines that carry power across the state.

READ ALSO: PG&E Is Responsible For The Camp Fire — How Will This Affect Ratepayers?

If one of those is shut off, anyone downstream could potentially lose power, including urban areas hours away from the fire danger.

Cal Fire determined last week the Camp Fire was sparked by a high voltage transmission line.

PG&E says while high fire threat areas are most likely to be impacted, all five million customers should be prepared for blackouts this season.

READ: Cal Fire Investigation Finds PG&E Lines Responsible For Starting Destructive Camp Fire

They’re encouraging people to update their contact information to ensure you get notifications. Also, due to the interconnected grid, even SMUD and other power customers could be impacted.

The utility first put its wildfire safety plan to the test, as it intentionally cut power to nearly 60,000 from the Bay Area to the Sierra Foothills. Businesses and school across the region were closed.

PG&E said it will voluntarily shut off power to avoid sparking a wildfire only when the risk is high.


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