Another round of shutoffs possible Saturday through Monday in Nevada County | TheUnion.com

Another round of shutoffs possible Saturday through Monday in Nevada County

Sam Corey and Elias Funez
Staff Writers

There is a strong potential for another power shutoff this weekend, PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said Thursday evening.

The shutoffs are planned for areas including the Sierra Foothills, North Bay Peninsula, East Bay central coast and Humboldt County.

“We’re at an elevated potential for a (power shutoff),” said Johnson. The company is preparing for a large scale shutoff like the one on Oct. 9 “but of longer duration.”

The latest shutoff, which began Wednesday, has affected 179,000 customers across portions of 17 counties, according to Mark Quinlan, deputy incident commander at a PG&E conference. An “all clear” was issued by PG&E to begin surveying power lines on Thursday. The utility company restored power for 125,000 customers as of 5:30 p.m. that day.

Johnson said company linemen had endured “threats” and “verbal assaults” while in the field Thursday.

Northern California may experience the “strongest wind event so far this fall” from Saturday to early Monday, according to the National Weather Service of Sacramento. Gusts of 40 to 60 mile-per-hour winds happened at high elevations over the three days. The service said this makes “extreme fire weather conditions” possible.

PG&E has been criticized, particularly in comparison with San Diego Gas & Electric, for not adapting its company considering the changing climate. The latter utility company made changes after wildfires struck California late last decade, moving its power lines underground and establishing smaller grids, meaning fewer customers are affected by shutoffs, according to Cal Matters.

The previous spree of shutoffs may have cost the Northern California region more than $2 billion by some estimates, according to The Guardian.

Owner of Nevada City Classic Cafe Kirk Valentine said he’s been frustrated by the shutoffs.

“They’re making it very difficult” to plan for business, he said. Valentine said the utility company misled him about when power would be returning on Thursday.

“The effect is that our regular customers have no place to go and our employees aren’t there today,” said Valentine, who closed his business on Thursday and said most businesses on Broad Street in Nevada City were closed as well.

The store owner, who employs five individuals, said his losses amounted to about $400 to $500.

At Penn Valley Market & B Liquor, a pair of generators kept the registers powered.

Elsewhere in the county, more businesses were finding ways to stay open, even if in limited capacities.

“I’m just glad to be working today,” an employee at the McKnight Way Chevron in Grass Valley said. The station had gas pumping due to its generators, while the store’s refrigerators and other appliances remained off.

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.


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