PG&E restores power to 220K customers impacted by California's grid operator-directed outages

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Sunday, August 16, 2020
Power restored for majority impacted by PG&E's rolling blackouts
PG&E announced rotating outages that will impact over 200,000 customers on Saturday night. Here's how it affected Bay Area residents also trying to stay cool amid the extreme heat wave.

LIVERMORE, Calif. (KGO) -- Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) says they have restored power to the majority of customers impacted by the outages affecting approximately 220,000 customers on Saturday night.

Around 7 p.m. the agency announced rolling blackouts at the direction of the California's grid operator.

This comes after the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) also tweeted Saturday evening that it wasn't planning a second night of rolling outages.

PG&E warned customers earlier in the day that another round of outages could happen at 5 p.m. and last until 10 p.m. The utility says no customers should be impacted overnight.

RELATED: What to do right now to prep for a planned power outage

The outages are expected to impact customers in portions of the Central Coast and Central Valley, including Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Joaquin counties.

The rolling blackouts are being called because the state's energy supply is not enough to adequately meet anticipated demand during the statewide heatwave. Other power utilities in the state are being directed to conduct similar rotating outages.

In a news release, Michael Lewis, Interim President of PG&E said:

"This is a statewide issue that we are working together with CAISO and many stakeholders to address. We know how important it is to have access to reliable power during these times, and we are doing everything we can to limit the impacts. Our team is working diligently to keep these rotating outages as short as possible so that there is no further impact to the grid. We appreciate our customers' patience as we work to restore power to everyone this evening. We urge all of our customers to take immediate steps to reduce their power usage."

On Friday evening, PG&E was directed by California Independent System Operator (ISO) to initiates rotating outages throughout the state.

RELATED: Here's how to store electricity before a power outage

The Stage 3 Emergency declaration was called on Friday and Saturday after extreme heat drove up electricity demand across California, causing the ISO to dip into its operating reserves for supply to cover demand.

Earlier this week the state issued a Flex Alert, warning residents that this week's heat wave could put a strain on the state's power grid.

San Jose teacher Mariana Garcia is one of over thousands PG&E customers affected by rotating power outages since Friday. Unlike many who got their power back this morning, it's been over 24 hours for her without electricity and her biggest concern now is not having her lesson plan ready for her students.

"Usually what happens is that over the weekend you start posting your things on Google classroom and well I'm not able to do that so I'm crossing my fingers that Monday morning to prepare my lessons," said Mariana Garcia.

In the East Bay at some point close to 8,000 were in the dark. With temperatures reaching over 105 degrees driving was the saving grace for some.

RELATED: Bay Area cities see record high temperatures as heat wave continues across region

"The only air conditioning we have is my car. Luckily my tank is full and we've been cruising around Livermore," said Stephen Coronado.

The heat is also increasing the number of emergency calls. In Contra Costa County, the fire protection district is gearing up to respond to potential fires.

"They are expecting thunderstorms with lightning strikes. If we have lighting during this hot weather we are concerned about the number of vegetation fires that we'll have," said Tracie Dutter, fire prevention captain Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

A Red Flag Warning will go into effect at 11 p.m. on Saturday night in Contra Costa County.

RELATED: Extreme heat wave bakes Bay Area after being hit by rolling blackouts amid record-breaking temps

"We have called for additional staffing. We have an additional engine already staffed. We called our Crew-12 which is our hand crew for vegetation fires. We have an additional chief officer and our dozer on standby," said Captain Dutter.

PG&E says essentially all impacted should have power back by Saturday evening but "some customers are still out of power due to separate heat related issues."

PG&E strongly encourages all customers to conserve energy through next Wednesday and offers these tips:

  • Raise the thermostat: Cool homes and use air conditioners more during morning hours. Set the thermostat to 78 degrees when at home during the rest of the day, health permitting. Turn it up to 85 degrees or turn it off when not at home.
  • Use a ceiling fan: Turn on a ceiling fan when using the air conditioner, which will allow the thermostat to be raised about 4 degrees to save on cooling costs with no reduction in comfort. Turn off fans and lights when you leave the room.
  • Cover windows: Use shade coverings and awnings so the air conditioner won't have to work as hard to cool the home.
  • Avoid using the oven: Instead, cook on the stove, use a microwave or grill outside.
  • Limit the opening of refrigerators, which are major users of electricity in most homes. The average refrigerator is opened 33 times a day.
  • Clean clothes and dishes early: Use large energy-consuming appliances like washing machines and dishwashers earlier in the day or late at night after 10:00 pm.

PG&E also offers tips to stay safe and cool:

  • Plan ahead: Check the weather forecast to prepare for hot days.
  • Keep an emergency contact list: Keep a list of emergency phone numbers.
  • Have a buddy system: Check in on elderly or people with access and function needs.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water, even when you are not thirsty.
  • Stay cool: Take a cool shower or bath and wear lightweight, loose, light-colored clothing.
  • Stay safe: Stay out of direct sunlight and avoid alcoholic or caffeinated beverages.

For the latest on PG&E outages across the Bay Area click here.

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