PG&E fire mitigation during shelter-in-place baffles Marin County residents

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (KGO) -- The home perched above a canyon is an idyllic place to take refuge from COVID-19, but Ron McClain of Mill Valley can also talk about difficulties.

"The big frustration is work," he said. "Not being able to work at home. We are all expected to work."

RELATED: PG&E to cut power to some East Bay residents for maintenance during stay-at-home order

He lives in a fire zone, one of those places where PG&E has been hardening the system. That work has has meant cutting power to residents at the same times when they need to be productive.

Everyone feels flummoxed.

"I don't know what to do. It is unexpected. I didn't know it was coming. But it has to be done," said neighbor Lynne Barnarde.

"It is like they are playing catch-up because they did not do their jobs over the past several years," added another neighbor, James Ber.

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PG&E plans to cut power eighteen times before the end of this month in Mill Valley, San Rafael and Novato. The combined work will impact several hundred customers. What frustrates them, "That PG&E's schedule keeps changing."

"So how do you make plans?" we asked James Ber.

"I don't think you can."

"Why does the schedule keep changing?" we asked Deanna Contreras of PG&E.

"We're taking feedback into consideration," she said. "Doing all we can to reduce impacts to customers. We apologize for the inconveniences."

RELATED: PG&E cuts power during shelter-in-place to Marin customers to prevent wildfires

PG&E scheduled the projects months ago.

"We have to get this work done," said Contreras. "We have to do it before the start of wildfire season."

PG&E has been trying to give customers advance notice based on changing plans. The utility says it can be more efficient with notifications when customers supply phone numbers and addresses.

Meantime, back on that beautiful deck in Mill Valley, Ron McClain had work to do.

"We do have power today," he said. "Not tomorrow. That's what they say."

Call it a form of collateral damage from a concurrence of mitigations; one for a wildfire, the other a pandemic, in the least convenient time and place.

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