PG&E restores power to North Bay customers, but critics ask why planned shutoff was needed

CALISTOGA, Calif. (KGO) -- The Power is back on to 1,400 residents in the North Bay after it was shut off for hours by PG&E due to high fire danger. Many customers did what they could to plan ahead as temperatures broke 100 degrees.

Five generators were cranking on the grounds of Safari West hotel and wildlife preserve in Santa Rosa.

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PG&E turned off the power early Wednesday but the staff was ready to keep guests and all the animals cool.

"Our maintenance team worked extra hard to get everything up and running, great teamwork," said Safari West employee Erika Defer.

Some guests couldn't take the 100-degree heat, even with generators powering fans.

"We knew it was hot, so we left here and went to a grocery store to cool off," said tourist Lindsey Belter.

PG&E restored power to hundreds of customers in Sonoma County by 4 pm Wednesday.

In Napa County, the lights came back on in Calistoga by 5:30 pm, and just in time.

"Just because of the heat we all needed AC," said Calistoga resident Enrique Zamudio.

Valerie Lenhart didn't mind losing her power for the day, she remembers the firestorm two years ago.

"I think it was the smart thing to do, we don't want to have another fire, the one-two years ago happened near here," said Lenhart.

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Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin is critical of PG&E's planned power shutoff. Gorin says, the on-again, off-again alerts by the utility left many people confused. She even questions if weather conditions called for extreme measures.

"That was my question, no winds today, nothing like the red flag conditions we had before the firestorms," said Supervisor Gorin.

But PG&E says the move was all in the name of fire safety and its forecast models tell a different story.

"It was a unique weather situation, dry windy weather systems, back to back Monday night and Tuesday night," said PG&E spokesperson, Deanna Contreras.
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