More than 3,000 PG&E, Contract and Mutual-Aid Personnel Are Responding After Significant New Year’s Eve Storm and Readying for New, Approaching Storm System

OAKLAND, Calif. – Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is mobilizing personnel ahead of a significant wet and windy winter storm due to arrive across Northern and Central California Wednesday and into Thursday.

This effort follows the restoration of nearly 500,000 customers who lost power during the strong New Year’s Eve storm last Saturday.

Poised to respond to outages are approximately 360 four-person electric crews, 397 troublemen, distribution line technicians and system inspectors who serve as the utility’s first responders and another 800 personnel who will monitor electric incidents for public safety

Additionally, hundreds of PG&E employees are serving in roles in the company’s Emergency  Operations Center as well as in regional and divisional emergency centers. Approximately 250 vegetation-management personnel also are at the ready.

PG&E is currently being supported by 16 crews from Southern California Edison and has requested mutual-aid assistance from additional West Coast power providers.

The company is using its storm outage prediction models that help determine the potential timing, location, and number of power outages. This allows the company to have extra crews on standby to deploy to areas that are hard hit by the storm. PG&E is also prestaging power poles, powerlines, transformers, and other electric equipment at yards throughout its service area to restore power to affected areas safely and as quickly as possible.   

The weather system forecasted to move through PG&E’s service area as early as Wednesday, Jan. 4, will deliver strong, gusty winds, moderate to heavy rain and a chance for isolated thunderstorms. Peak wind risk is expected Wednesday across the central and southern parts of PG&E’s service area, with gusts in the 35-45 MPH range at lower elevations and possibly 50-60 MPH across elevated terrain, portions of the Central Valley and along the Central Coast.

Potentially hazardous conditions such as flooding, mud slides and road closures—some which remain from the storms that occurred over New Year’s weekend—could slow restoration efforts for some customers. The incoming adverse weather could result in trees, limbs and other debris falling into powerlines, damaging equipment, and interrupting electric service. Saturated soil in many locations could cause trees to fall, and localized flooding and mudslides are possible.

“This weather system by itself would present widespread challenges, and we have to factor in that many parts of our service area remain saturated after last weekend’s storm. Our crews have been working tirelessly to ensure we minimize any impacts this storm may have on our customers and hometowns. We encourage customers to prepare for the storm now – have an emergency plan in case you lose power and update your contact information on PG&E’s website so we can provide you with real-time updates on outages in your neighborhood,” said Angie Gibson, vice president, PG&E Emergency Preparedness & Response

Keeping Customers Informed

Customers can view real-time outage information at PG&E’s online outage center and search by a specific address, by city or by county. This site has been updated to include support in 16 languages.

Additionally, customers can sign up for outage notifications by text, email, or phone. PG&E will let customers know the cause of an outage, when crews are on their way, the estimated restoration time and when power has been restored.

PG&E is coordinating with its community-based partners to offer support to customers in need. PG&E partners with the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers to offer support for older adults and people with disabilities through the Disability Disaster Access and Resources Program. As well, as the California Network of 2-1-1 who can connect customers to resources in their local communities.

Storm Safety Tips

  • Never touch downed wires: If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and extremely dangerous. Do not touch or try to move it—and keep children and animals away. Report downed power lines immediately by calling 9-1-1 and then PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
  • Use generators safely: Customers with standby electric generators should ensure they are properly installed by a licensed electrician in a well-ventilated area. Improperly installed generators pose a significant danger to customers, as well as crews working on powerlines. If using portable generators, be sure they are in a well-ventilated area.
  • Use flashlights, not candles: During a power outage, use battery-operated flashlights and not candles, due to the risk of fire. And keep extra batteries on hand. If you must use candles, please keep them away from drapes, lampshades, animals and small children. Do not leave candles unattended.
  • Have a backup phone: If you have a telephone system that requires electricity to work, such as a cordless phone or answering machine, plan to have a standard telephone or cellular phone ready as a backup. Having a portable charging device helps to keep your cell phone running.
  • Have fresh drinking water and ice: Freeze plastic containers filled with water to make blocks of ice that can be placed in your refrigerator/freezer to prevent food spoilage.
  • Turn off appliances: If you experience an outage, unplug or turn off all electrical appliances to avoid overloading circuits and to prevent fire hazards when power is restored. Simply leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns.

Safely clean up: After the storm has passed, be sure to safely clean up. Never touch downed wires and always call 8-1-1 or visit 811express.com at least two full business days before digging to have all underground utilities safely marked.

Other tips can be found at: Safety and PreparednessStorm Safety, and Safety Action Center.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is a combined natural gas and electric utility serving more than 16 million people across 70,000 square miles in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and http://www.pge.com/about/newsroom/.