PG&E poised to cut power to 30 California counties


SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) – Parts of 30 counties in Northern California may not have power on Wednesday and Thursday. It’s a move by PG&E to prevent wildfires but some say it’s too risky.

PG&E said, “When gusty winds and dry conditions occur, combined with a heightened fire risk, PG&E may need to turn off power for public safety.”

Imagine owning a family grocery store for sixty years and not knowing whether all of these cold items on your shelves will turn into uninsured losses. Now you’re walking in the shoes of grocer Joe Molsberry. He said, “If it shuts down it could kill a company like this.”

We’re hearing similar stories from 30 counties as PG&E contemplates another Public Power Safety Shutoff, or PSPS as an acronym, and all to prevent sparking wildfires.

Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore said, “I have colleagues in Mono County who say, “PSPS? I am PS’d off…”

After the firestorm of two years ago, Gore vowed to make this region more responsive and resilient, but this is a wrinkle that didn’t exist two years ago.

Shutoffs pose their own set of problems. The county has declared a distaste and will send a notice to the governor about it.

“You cannot mitigate one disaster while creating a second and not take responsibility for it,” Gore said.

Christopher Godley runs emergency management for Sonoma County. He said, “We’re going to lose cell phone towers potentially. And if a fire starts while we are de-energized, it will limit our ability to respond.”

But Deanna Contreras with PG&E says they have no choice. “We understand the inconvenience to our customers but this is a severe weather event with critical fire risk.”

So we’re counting the hours. Joe Molsberry in particular, who said, “Oh, it is nerve-wracking…”

The power may be shut off for five days or possibly longer.

A map of potential outages

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