Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) issued an “all clear” this morning after conducting Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) yesterday due to high winds, according to Mark Mesesan, a PG&E communications representative.
The company is currently working on restoring power in the affected regions. Affected counties include Fresno, Kern, Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Tulare. The shutoffs affected a total of approximately 5,000 customers in these areas, according to a press release issued Tuesday, Jan. 19.
The areas affected within San Luis Obispo County include Huasna Valley, east of Arroyo Grande.
Mesesan said that these shut offs are in the interest of customer safety.
“We are here to provide power to our customers not to shut it off but sometimes when conditions warrant we will shut off the power to ensure public safety,” Mesesan said.
As wildfires have become an increasing danger in California in the past few years, PG&E has created criteria for when a power shutoff is necessary.
The criteria includes when humidity is at 20% or lower, high temperatures, sustained winds of at least 25 miles per hour with gusts of 45 miles per hour, red flag alert by the National Weather Service and very dry tinder like conditions.
“We met all of the criteria for our leadership to make the decision to call a PSPS which we don’t do lightly,” Mesesan said.
Even though there are still strong winds in southern San Luis Obispo County and Northern Santa Barbara County, the power has been restored to these last few areas, according to Mesesan. PG&E worked through their restoration process to make the determination of safety to restore power.
Restoration occurs as follows: PG&E crews patrol to assess potential damage, repair damage found, restore power once damage is repaired and then PG&E notifies affected customers of the power restoration, according to a Jan. 20 press release.
There are still 33 customers in the San Luis Obispo area that remain without power due to damage. The PG&E team is currently working to restore power to these customers, according to Mesesan.
This is the first time ever a PSPS has occurred in January and the first time ever a PSPS has been issued in San Luis Obispo County.