Shutoffs for the second phase of counties, initially scheduled to start around noon on Wednesday, have been delayed. Officials in various counties say it may start around 8 p.m. The counties impacted are: Alameda, Alpine, Calaveras, Contra Costa, Mariposa, Mendocino, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Stanislaus and Tuolumne.
About 513,000 customers were part of the first phase of this Public Safety Power Shutoff in Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo and Yuba counties.
PG&E said in a press conference that they were able to reconfigure some of their lines and re-energize 44,000 of the over 500,000 customers currently without power.
They are currently working on a main line that, if they can get it safely re-energized, could bring power back to between 60,000 and 80,000 more customers.
WATCH LIVE: PG&E provides update on power outages
About 21,000 in Calaveras and 800 customers in Mendocino were not part of the first phase and will be turned off during the second phase coming later Wednesday.
A third phase is being considered for the southernmost portions of PG&E’s service area, impacting approximately 42,000 customers. Specific locations are still to be determined.
PG&E says the decision to turn off the power was based on forecasts of dry, hot and windy weather including potential fire risk. However several residents have noticed little to no wind this morning in the region. That could change by this afternoon with gusts expected to pick up.
The strongest winds are forecasted to reach 60 to 70 mph at higher elevations, according to forecast models being used by PG&E.
There are 186,000 people without power in Marin, Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties according to PG&E.
In Sonoma County, PG&E says approximately 66,000 customers continue to not have power.
Traffic has been a mess with backups at several intersections due to the outage.That’s the bad news. The good? “There will not be additional emergency shutoffs in this region,” said PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contreras.
In Eastern Santa Rosa, however, the outages have taken a toll. At the Baskin-Robbins store inside the St. Francis Mall, Don Snider and his wife, Chris, had to clear gallons of ice cream from their cases. “The freezer is supposed to be able to keep them cold for three days,” Don said. “That didn’t work last time.”
Chris, meantime, kept working in a the back, seeing only with a battery-powered light. She wasn’t happy. “I was going to submit a claim to PG&E for the outage during the fire today,” she said. “Don’t know what good it will do. They’re bankrupt.”
Inside a Valero service station and store at Highway 12 and Farmers Lane, manager Angel Ramos wasn’t happy, either. “We’re going to lose money. We need to send all these perishables to another store.”
Just moving from point A to point B in this outage has proven to be challenging. Traffic lights are out. The Santa Rosa Fire Department reports more accidents than usual. They even had one call Wednesday morning to a home where the owners had begun to feel the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning. “Keep your generator outside,” said Assistant Fire Marshall Paul Lowenthal. “Run one inside and it will become a health hazard.”
Doug Jones has health concerns for another reason. He needs electricity to charge a device that makes oxygen, allowing him to sleep. We found him topping off batteries inside a PG&E community resource center near the county fairgrounds. “PG&E should have taken care of this for the past 50years,” said Doug. “If they had, we would not be here, now.”
The outage is bringing many to question why this was happening.
“There’s no wind. So I am a little confused with that. PG&E has a little problem with information, I think,” said Chris Lely around 6 a.m. outside the Safeway, where he was looking to get a cup of coffee.
The store had some lights on but was closed. Safeway had a generator to try and save some food but did not have enough power to open for business.
“This is the start of it. We will see how many days it runs. That will be the problem. It’s not fun. It’s better than a fire though,” Lely said.
As the morning progressed, a beautiful Fall day unfolded. But the power remained off.
“It’s a little ridiculous. It’s beautiful out… short sleeves… I don’t know what prompted the power outages,” said Josh Crozat, the general manager of G&C Auto Body
He says his office is closed but his garage workers pulled out their hand tools to try and work today. They don’t like it but say it’s better than not working at all.
“It’s exhausting. Normally you hit a button and it goes. Now you’re wrenching with your shoulder, your arm. I wouldn’t want to do it, I use a pen,” Crozat said.
Classes at Sonoma schools were cancelled because of the power outage. Gas stations were closed. People still pulled in to some stations in search of fuel….hoping for an escape.
“I thought I might want to drive to a hotel in a beautiful area that has power, but I don’t think so unless I can find some gas,” said Glen Delman.
Sonoma Market is open but with limited service. The grocery store has a generator to power its cash registers and lights but its ovens don’t work and the coffee is cold. The store is putting its meat and frozen goods in refrigerated trucks behind the store to try and save them. The
manager says if the power outage lasts for days, though, they will lose a lot of it to expiration dates.
It’s all about timing for the people in Napa, fending for themselves with a PG&E power outage that started for them at midnight, some feeling very lucky that they arrived to the local Nob Hill Market just as a new load of ice was being unloaded.
“I think they jumped the gun in my opinion,” said Napa resident Chris Vannoy as he loaded four big bags of ice into his SUV. “There’s no breeze. There’s still dew on my car. Turning it off is good, but wait till it’s dangerous.”
Beyond the coping, there is a bit of frustration as residents awakened to a power outage PG & E claims it had to do because of high winds, but here, there is barely any. At least not yet.
“The wind is two miles an hour right now,” said George Wesowitch, as he walked his two dogs in South Napa. “It was 11 miles an hour last night. No wind.”
But high winds are still forecast, prompting a strike team of firefighters from all over the area to gather at a fire station near Silverado Country Club. The contingent includes firefighters from Napa County, St. Helena and American Canyon, as well as the City of Napa.
“We’re formed up as a task force,” said Captain Dan D’Angelo with the City of Napa Fire Department. “We’re pre-positioned, ready to go for a rapid response.”
At a busy intersection South of Napa, the failure of a battery backup system led to a huge backup of cars, where Highways 29 and 221 meet. It was so bad, the CHP had to step in and control traffic by flashlight.
At the Village Liquor on Monticello Road, in the heart of the outage area, the power outage is a little less dangerous, but still disruptive. The store is open, but all transactions are cash only. A portable generator is powered up at the rear of the store to keep the frozen case and the cash registers up and running, but otherwise the store is completely in the dark.
Caltrans announced that the Caldecott Tunnel will remain open through the outage. Crews worked to provide backup generators so that it can remain open.
However, power outages could impact 32,680 residents Alameda County and 51,310 residents in Contra Costa County. PSPS has been delayed for “a few hours,” according to PG&E.
Oakland, Fremont, Alameda County and Contra Costa County officials announced that their shutoffs will be delayed until 8 p.m. Wednesday.
In the Oakland hills, it’s full steam ahead with preparations as the 8 pm deadline approaches.
In Montclair Village, it’s the worry of losing power that’s causing trouble with one store, reporting they weren’t getting any customers because of the alert. A Korean Deli owner estimates he might lose $7-8k in inventory if the power is shut off.
The PG&E power outage also caused the Oakland Zoo to close.
Employees tell ABC7 they are most worried about their food supplies and endangered species whose exhibits require power to keep them alive. Some cannot handle losing power for even a moment, especially in the biodiversity center.
Officials have eight generators and food supplies that will hold them over temporarily, but should the power stay out, further action will be required.
Joaquin Miller Park along with Dimond, East Oakland and Sheffield Village recreation centers in Oakland will also be closed.In Hayward, city officials are increasing firefighter, police and emergency-dispatch staffing levels. A cooling and device-charging center at city hall.
“We believe in backups, and backups, and backups,” said Andrea Pook, a spokesperson for East Bay MUD.
Pook says EBMUD, rented 29 portable generators, to pump water to their customers since much of our water supply relies on electricity too.
“What we want to do is preserve that water supply, so what we’re asking people to do is conserve water, shut off their outdoor irrigation, when the PG&E power shut down occurs.”
“This is not a good contingency for their customers,” said Marilyn Varnado, who lives in the Oakland Hills. Like many people in the Bay Area, she checked into a hotel, when she found out her home was in an outage area.
“Most people don’t realize what an outage really means,” said Varnado, who added, “stoplights are not going to be working, there’s going to be a lot of crazy things going on and I just think there’s going to be some tragedies because of that.”
At 3:30 pm Wednesday, San Jose officials said PG&E customers in the city could lose power around 8 pm, and that it could be out for seven days.
Santa Clara County has declared a local emergency in response to the PG&E shutoffs.
As the line of cars inches toward a San Jose Chevron off of East Capitol Expressway, vehicles were also moving closer and closer to PG&E’s public safety power shutdown.
“This is insane,” Yaneth Miluitin, a San Jose resident said. “We are not a third world country.”
Although PG&E believes 38,000 customers in Santa Clara County could be impacted by the outage, that’s counting “customer accounts.” The city said about 200,000 people could be impacted in San Jose.
“They think by shutting off the power they’re going to resolve a problem, but the problem is a lot deeper than what we’re experiencing right now,” Milutin said.
“It’s very frustrating on our part to not know what’s going on in a large swath of our city and have their power taken away,” Kip Harkness, San Jose’s deputy city manager, said.
The city’s best advice right now is to be prepared for up to seven days without power. The empty water shelves inside a South San Jose Target show at least some residents are listening to the warnings.
If you don’t have the right supplies, San Jose has opened three community resource centers to help. PG&E has a community resource center operating inside Avaya auditorium.
In San Mateo County, most of the areas in the PG&E fire zone are south of Highway 92, all the way to the Coast.
Anticipation and anxiety are growing in San Mateo County as PG&E Wednesday afternoon pushed back “for several hours” plans to cut power in light of gusty winds forecast for San Mateo County and other areas in the central Bay Area.
Originally, PG&E had advised that power might be shut off around noon. A changing forecast was cited for the postponement.
An estimated 14,000 to 15,000 homes and businesses in portions of San Mateo County are expected to lose their power.
Roberts Market in Woodside has been unusually busy for two days as residents stock up, uncertain when and for how long they will be without power.
Christine Roberts, the owner of the market, told ABC7 News that she has a generator to keep the lights on and the cash registers going, but the big concern is the perishables, from expensive imported cheese to freshly-butchered meat that has limited storage life and temperature requirements for food safety.
The butchers will have to strip the meat counter and move everything to the cooler in back. One of the problems this market had was that orders had already been placed, and those orders kept arriving, including on Wednesday. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars in value in perishables at its Woodside and Portola Valley markets.
Cashier Kim Torres says the ice is sold out, so they’re making more. Batteries are being snapped up. She says there is a sense of panic she has never seen before among Woodside residents.
Woodside resident Terry Braunstein said his concern is the fire risk posed by homeowners firing up generators.
Woodside’s famous Buck’s Restaurant, where high tech movers and shakers hold power breakfast meetings and are known to strike formidable deals, has a sign posted on its glass door, “closed due to power outage.” Co-owner Jamis MacNiven says he closed at 11 a.m., heeding the warning from PG&E, but at mid-afternoon, the power was still on. He has put food supplies on ice but could end up discarding it if the power outage is prolonged.
Next door, at the Village Bakery and Cafe, general manager Nick Greene was still selling coffee and pastries, but he has been calling customers to cancel Wednesday night’s reservations at the restaurant. Both Greene and MacNiven seemed to taking the uncertainty in stride.
PG&E contractors worked near Highway 92 in San Mateo, trimming trees too close to power lines. PG&E appeared to have a new fire break around its Jefferson substation.
Upscale Emerald Hills, with its expensive homes, was in PG&E’s fire zone, a community with narrow winding roads where strong winds from the northwest sweep down in the afternoons.
The ACE Hassett Hardware Store was the most popular spot in Half Moon Bay, some of its shelves empty by noon. Generators were selling like hotcakes.
The Tom Lantos Tunnel at Devils Slide on Highway One is expected to remain open through the outage.
PG&E says power restoration will begin Thursday afternoon after the weather event. PG&E crews will then have to inspect every inch of their power lines and infrastructure, and depending on damage from the expected wind, power could be off in some areas until Monday or Tuesday.
PG&E says as the weather evolves, they will provide updates about the power shutoff and restoration timing.
For the latest stories about PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff go here.
ABC7 News’ Laura Anthony, Wayne Freedman, David Louie, Amy Hollyfield, Jobina Fortson, Kris Reyes and Liz Kreutz contributed to this report.