SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – PG&E may cut off power to tens of thousands of people in Northern California Monday, but how does the utility decide when it needs to turn off the power supply?
PG&E says it looks at a number of factors:
- Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service
- Low humidity levels, generally 20 percent and below
- Forecasted sustained winds generally above 25 mph and wind gusts in excess of approximately 45 mph, depending on location and site-specific conditions such as temperature, terrain, and local climate
- Condition of dry fuel on the ground and live vegetation (moisture content)
- On-the-ground, real-time observations from PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Operations Center and field crews
PG&E says it may shut off power to communities relying on lines running through an area experiencing high winds, dry conditions, etc.
Once the weather stabilizes PG&E crews then need to visually inspect each mile of the impacted power lines to make sure they’re safe and not damaged. The crews inspect the lines during the daylight hours with the goal of restoring power within 24 to 48 hours. If repairs are needed, or the weather conditions aren’t safe, the power shut off can last longer than the goal time.