PG&E and city officials confirmed the utility implemented Public Safety Power Shutoffs in parts of south/west Pleasanton late Wednesday night (Oct. 9) that will run through about noon Thursday (Oct. 10). The company has said restoration of power could take multiple days as well.
The affected areas in Pleasanton are described as Foothill Road (south of Bernal Avenue to Sunol area), Happy Valley, Sycamore and Callippe Preserve Golf Course areas, parts of Ruby Hill and possibly the Vineyard Avenue corridor area, according to PG&E.
Those areas were originally identified for shutoff around 1 p.m. Wednesday, but PG&E initially announced a delay until 8 p.m. due to changing weather conditions. It appears that wave of shutoffs in the East Bay began around 11 p.m. Wednesday.
The power outages are expected to affect more than 450,000 customers in all of the Bay Area counties except San Francisco. Shutoffs, which are being implemented in phases, began during the early-morning hours Wednesday in some communities and could extend to Thursday afternoon, with another one to five days to restore power depending on the location and workload.
Some communities that could be affected by the power shutoffs include portions of Pleasanton, Livermore, San Ramon, Danville and Sunol. On its website, the utility company called the move, “a precautionary measure to reduce wildfire risk during the forecasted severe wind event.”
A Red Flag Warning has been put in effect by the National Weather Service for parts of the North Bay and the East Bay hills and valleys from Wednesday at 5 a.m. to Thursday 5 p.m.
The NWS reported Tuesday afternoon that “strong, gusty and dry northerly winds” are expected to develop across the greater San Francisco Bay Area by late Tuesday night and continue through Thursday. Sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph, with gusts of 45 to 55 mph are expected in those areas during the height of the event on Wednesday night. The agency also warned that locally higher wind gusts are possible.
The strongest winds are forecast in the hills but “gusty” winds in the valleys and near the coast “will result in critical fire weather conditions from Wednesday into Thursday, especially across the North Bay, East Bay, and Santa Cruz Mountains,” according to the NWS.
Winds are not expected to be as strong in the valleys, so wind advisories are not expected for those places. However, the NWS added that “winds in all the aforementioned areas will be strong enough to generate critical fire weather conditions when combined with the expected very low humidities and dry fuels.”
Cindy Chin, spokeswoman for the city of Pleasanton, confirmed Tuesday that three areas within the city limits were on the list to be affected: Foothill Road (south of Bernal Avenue to the Sunol Boulevard area); the Happy Valley, Sycamore and Callippe Preserve Golf Course area; and parts of Ruby Hill and possibly the Vineyard Corridor Area. Residents who need to charge their phones may do so for free at the Pleasanton Public Library, which Chin said is not anticipated to lose power.
Pleasanton Unified School District spokesman Patrick Gannon told the Weekly, “PUSD schools are not anticipated to be affected by planned power outages. As such, all schools plan to be open tomorrow.”
But in the event that schools are impacted, Gannon said PUSD will “send out a auto-dialer to all families at the phone numbers listed on Q Parent Connection at the affected schools to let you know if your child’s school will be affected.” A list of closed schools will also be posted on the district's website and social media pages.
Officials are advising residents to prepare for the shutoffs by planning for any medical needs, such as medications that require refrigeration or devices that need power, and making sure their emergency supply kit is fully stocked with food, water (one gallon every day for each person or pet in their household), flashlights, fresh batteries, first aid supplies, and cash.
Residents are urged to learn how to manually open their garage door, find backup methods for charging phones, and have a personal safety plan in place for all household members including pets. They are also advised to ensure their backup generator is ready to safely use.
Community resource centers will be open during the shutoffs for Alameda County residents at Merritt College Lot B on Leona Street in Oakland. Contra Costa County residents can visit the Bishop Ranch Parking Lot in San Ramon at 2600 Camino Ramon.
On Tuesday, PG&E’s main website was down following announcement of the shutoffs, which was heavily criticized by users. As of press time, the site (http://www.pge.com/pspsupdates) was still unavailable but PG&E continues to post updates on their Twitter account @PGE4Me. A Twitter account is not needed to view their messages.