October Public Safety Power Shutoff Events Led to Several Operational and Customer Improvements Already Integrated into Protocols and Plans
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) operational and meteorological teams are monitoring a potentially strong offshore wind event on Wednesday, Nov. 20. The forecast remains uncertain, but there is a possibility that the weather could prompt a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) for some customers in the Sierra Foothills, North Valley and North Bay.
During late fall, PG&E’s service territory typically experiences dry vegetation (plants, shrubs, twigs and debris) that are ripe for igniting or spreading a wildfire. But dry vegetation conditions have worsened further due to above average temperatures for this time of year, the lack of rain and the recent series of extreme wind events.
Both the forecast and the scope of the weather event remain very fluid three days ahead of the event. At present, projections reflect a possible weather event similar to previous PSPS events that impacted about 180,000 customers.
Overall Improvements to PSPS Practices
Based on feedback from customers, other stakeholders and internal review sessions from the numerous PSPS events in October, many improvements have already been integrated into PG&E’s safety shutoff protocols, plans and procedures.
- The PSPS notification system has been expanded and refined to reach more people, more reliably.
- Our website and call centers are now able to handle much higher levels of traffic.
- We are enhancing the quality of our outage maps.
- We have improved coordination and communication with our government agency partners – including welcoming members of Cal OES, CAL FIRE and the CPUC to work alongside us in PG&E’s Emergency Operations Center.
- PG&E has invested more than $4 million in 2019 charitable contributions to emergency preparedness efforts in our service area, with an emphasis on vulnerable communities in high wildfire threat areas of the state, including supporting disaster readiness and response in vulnerable communities through partnerships with California Fire Foundation, American Red Cross, United Way and others.
- An example is a $250,000 grant to Interface Children and Family Services, an organization that bolsters the network of 211 resources in high wildfire threat communities to ensure access to emergency information for vulnerable populations and referrals to key services.
Knowing that PSPS creates hardships for our customers, and especially for customers who are living close to the margins, PG&E has committed an additional $2 million in charitable funding to support communities most impacted by PSPS.
- The emphasis is on organizations that have stepped up to provide support services to the most vulnerable members of our communities. This includes low-income children and families, communities of color, seniors, and Tribal members.
- We are identifying non-profit organizations which are already serving the most vulnerable in our communities, and helping to bolster their ability to provide food, water, shelter and support services on the ground in these communities when disasters strike, or during PSPS events.
- This effort complements our partnership with California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFILC). PG&E and the CFILC are collaborating to determine how to best serve the Access for Functional Needs (AFN) community before, during and after a PSPS event or other emergencies.
- During the October PSPS, using grant money from PG&E, the CFILC provided more than 150 batteries, nearly 80 hotel-night stays and transportation to Community Resource Centers, homes, hotels or other locations.
- The AFN community includes people with disabilities, customers currently enrolled in PG&E’s Medical Baseline Program, and/or the aging population.
Website, Call Centers
- PG&E has completed all functional and load testing on features and systems on our website that are required for a PSPS. They were all tested to 2.5 million transactions per hour. PG&E Outage Maps were tested to 3.1 million transactions per hour.
- We have moved specific components/features of the website to cloud-based solutions that can scale up and down as needed. These features are the ones most heavily used during the event including looking up addresses and downloading map files.
- PG&E’s call center now has the bandwidth to withstand up to 3,900 concurrent calls.
Community Resource Centers (CRCs)
- During one PSPS event in October, we had more than 70 CRCs in operation at one time. We now can set up and open a CRC much more quickly.
- We worked with county and city officials to locate the CRCs in the most appropriate location in each affected county.
- The CRCs provide restrooms, bottled water, electronic-device charging and air-conditioned seating for up to 100 people, as well as ice and blankets upon request.
- Throughout the five October events, more than 56,000 people took the opportunity to visit CRCs at the dozens of locations provided.
How to Keep Up with PSPS Information
PG&E offers myriad ways for customers to keep up with news about PSPS events – before, during and after a safety shutoff.
- For the latest weather information, including the PSPS 7-Day forecast, click http://www.pge.com/weather.
- Make sure PG&E has your updated contact information so we can reach out to you in advance of a PSPS via automated phone call, text and email. Update your contact information at www.pge.com/mywildfirealerts or call 1-866-743-6589 during normal business hours.
- If you’re not a PG&E account holder or you want to check whether a PSPS is happening in another area, sign up for PSPS Zip Code Alerts at www.pge.com/pspszipcodealerts or call 1-877-9000-PGE.
- For general information about how a Public Safety Power Shutoff works, click www.pge.com/psps
- PG&E will provide frequent updates on its Twitter and Facebook accounts.
- PG&E will also send out local information via NextDoor.
- PG&E’s Safety Action Center provides tips on getting prepared, how to make an emergency checklist, what to pack in a “Go Bag,” how to open your garage door if the electricity is off and more.
- PG&E will provide continuous information to county offices of emergency services and other agencies.
- PG&E will provide frequent updates to news media.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com and www.pge.com/news.