PG&E to Brief Santa Rosa Council on Power Shutdowns

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In the case of severe fire weather, tens of thousands of Sonoma County customers could be without power for up to a week or longer.

That’s the disturbing scenerio that Santa Rosa City Councilmembers will hear during a study session and briefing by representatives from PG&E in city council chambers on Tuesday.

The meeting is designed to provide city lawmakers with more information about the utility’s fire preparedness and management plans, including its new, more aggressive power shutdown policies.

In the wake of bankruptcy prompted by billions in liability over power line-caused fires, PG&E announced a new policy to shut off power earlier during extreme fire weather, and to more customers.  That could include shutting down major regional transmission lines, and not just distribution lines as in the past.

What that means for northern California residents is the potential for large areas, and tens of thousands of customers to be blacked out, in extreme cases, for up to a week. Under the policy, utility crews must inspect all affected lines before the power is turned back on, a process that could take many days.

In its 2:30PM study session, the city council is expected to pepper PG&E with questions about the power shut off policy, its effect on vunerable populations, and coordination with cities and counties.

PG&E is expected to talk about its ongoing and completed efforts to harden its supply system, including installing hundreds of new weather stations, dozens of fire cameras, and work to replace aging equipment and power poles.




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