72 hours after PG&E outages began, Bay Area customers have their lights back on
Oct. 13, 2019
Nearly 72 hours after Pacific Gas and Electric Co. began a mass power cut-off in California that officials warned could last up to seven days, nearly all affected customers had their energy restored.
In a news conference Saturday afternoon, PG&E officials also said they identified 50 confirmed cases of damaged equipment and an additional 100 potential cases where damage might be wind-related. In some cases, heavy branches fell onto inactive power lines.
“Any of those could have led to the ignition of catastrophic wildfires,” said Sumeet Singh, vice president of PG&E’s Asset and Risk Management and Community Wildfire Safety Program,
Customer safety was the reason behind the shut-offs, Bill Johnson, PG&E’s CEO, told reporters at the company’s San Francisco headquarters.
“These outrages were intended solely, solely to keep our communities safe from wildfire, and we achieved that purpose,” he said.
Johnson also made a point of comparing the scene in Northern California to the situation elsewhere in the state.
“We did not have catastrophic wildfires in our service area like the ones going on in Southern California at the moment,” he said.
This includes the Saddleridge Fire, which as of Saturday morning had burned more than 7,500 hillside acres above San Fernando Valley and prompted more than 100,000 people to evacuate their homes
By Saturday afternoon, PG&E said, it had restored power to all but about 2,500 of the 738,000 customers in Central and Northern California that had lost it. In the Bay Area, all customers had the lights back on by 10 a.m. Saturday. In the Sierra foothill region, PG&E said, 98.7% of customers had their power restored.
PG&E officials hoped to restore electricity to the remaining customers by the end of Saturday. Saturday. Many of the remaining customers, however, without power aren’t easy to reach.
“We have some (cases) where we have to fly poles in on a helicopter, hand-dig a hole and hook up one customer,” Johnson said Saturday. “Those take a little more time.”