Better Forecast Lets California Utility Reduce Power Cuts
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
California’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, has scaled back an earlier plan to cut power to 375,000 customers, the San Jose Mercury News reported. The new figure is 150,000 customers.
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“We were able to reduce scope overnight due to favorable weather conditions,” Mark Quinlan, a PG&E senior director overseeing the shutoff, told a Tuesday evening press conference as reported by the Mercury News.
“If conditions change, we will pivot and change with the weather, Quinlan added.
NWS Upgrades Fire Weather Watch to Red Flag Warning
Drying vegetation and gusty winds prompted the National Weather Service to upgrade a “fire weather watch” to a “red flag warning.” The warning was scheduled to take effect around 4 a.m. Wednesday and last through Thursday.
The area under the “red flag warning” includes the North Bay Mountains, East Bay Hills and Diablo Range. In parts of the East and North Bay, forecasts called for north-northeast winds of 20 to 30 mph, with gusts of 35 to 45 mph.
Officials Take No Chances Due to Lack of Rain, Dry Brush and High Winds
PG&E officials explained the shutdown by saying they were taking no chances due to a lack of rain, bone-dry brush and winds that could gust to 55 mph. Winds that strong “might knock tree branches or other debris into power lines, causing sparks that could set catastrophic fires,” the Associated Press reported.
The weather should ease by Thursday morning, allowing PG&E to begin restoring power, Quinlan told AP.
A major power shutdown last month affected 2.5 million people in the wake of the massive Kincade Fire. It was the state’s largest fire of the year and burned nearly 78,000 acres. Two civilians and one firefighter died in the conflagration.