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PG&E Can Cut Power During High Fire-Danger

High winds and the rising mercury bring high fire dangers.

Posted: Jun. 13, 2018 6:28 PM
Updated: Jun. 14, 2018 11:55 AM

CALIFORNIA -- High winds and the rising mercury bring high fire dangers.

PG&E says, depending where you live, that perfect storm could mean that your power will be shut off the next time there's a fire.

PG&E sent out a letter to about 500,000 people across California. The energy giant says it's hoping to prevent wildfires, but it's a move that has many people concerned.

“My initial thought was, ‘how the heck can they do this?’” said Forest Ranch resident Stephen Mayo.

Mayo has lived in Forest Ranch for 22 years. He knows he's in a high fire-danger zone, so he's done all he could to protect himself.

He’s put special vents on the house, changed the deck to be fire safe, and even has sprinklers that he can put on the roof if he needs to.

“We used to go on vacation in August, but we don't go on vacation in August anymore; we don't go on vacation in July.”

Last week he and about 500,000 Californians got a letter from PG&E saying the company may shut-off power when extreme fire danger conditions occur.

Of course, he and his neighbors now have lots of questions.

“How much advanced notification are we going to get? Are we going to get two hours? Are we going to get a day?”

PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno says people will get anywhere from one to 24-hours’ notice if their power may be shut off.

He said they will do this only as a last resort, and under extreme conditions, so something you'd see maybe once or twice a year.

“If there's going to be a wind event and it's hot outside for 3 days, are we going to be without PG&E for 3 days?” asked Mayo.

“That could go for a few days, so we do want our customers to be prepared for those situations,” said Moreno.

Moreno says this will only happen in Tier-3 areas, which are classified as extreme fire danger by the California Public Utilities Commission.

He says they do have set criteria for the power safety shut off program, but they have to take all of the pieces into consideration.

“Do you have existing wildfires in the area? What is the forecast for the weather? What is the weather?” said Moreno.

He said they will give customers as much notice as possible, but they want people to always be prepared.

“So make plans if you live in these high fire-threat areas, because shutting off the power is not something we're going to do very lightly,” Moreno said.

Moreno also said make sure PG&E has all of your updated contact information so they can give you as much heads up as possible.

You can see the High Fire-Threat District Map here

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