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PG&E Says Recent Groveland Power Outage Impact Was ‘Unacceptable’

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Groveland, CA — Widespread power outages challenged the greater Groveland area a week ago during the peak of a triple-digit heat wave.

Thousands were without power for multiple days, prompting the Groveland Community Services District to open a cooling station on Sunday, July 2 and Monday, July 3rd.

The outage was in relation to PG&E’s Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings and was potentially heat related. When sensors indicate something is nearing the lines (such as a falling tree branch), or when they are overheating, they will shut off automatically. The goal is to prevent wildfires. EPSS has been the cause of other outages in the greater region over recent months.

Clarke Broadcasting requested more information from PG&E about the most recent Groveland outage, and Spokesperson Denny Boyles provided a detailed statement and recap. You can read it below:

“The outage impact that Groveland and the surrounding communities experienced was unacceptable, and we are working hard to improve service reliability for our customers. The electric system is complex and multiple factors may have contributed to these outages. While we are confident we have addressed the primary cause of the most recent outage, we are continuing to investigate. We plan to share additional updates as soon as we know more.

We recognize that we missed an opportunity to communicate more with our customers regarding the restoration process and timeline. We are committed to improving our customer communications for long-duration outages and identifying areas for improvement in communicating about outages while they are active and when an accurate estimated time of restoration may be difficult to provide.

High temperatures may have contributed to these outages. Heat waves can cause damage and overload electric equipment. This also increases the risk of wildfires in our hometowns, which is why many of our powerlines have Enhanced Powerline Safety Settings (EPSS).

These settings are turned on when wildfire risk is high and allow our lines to automatically turn off power within one-tenth of a second. This occurs if there is a hazard, like an equipment failure or a tree branch falling onto a line. Quickly turning off power when there is trouble helps prevent ignitions that can start a wildfire.

There have been some questions about the microgrid in Groveland and why it was not used. For unplanned outages that occur suddenly and without advance notice, in most cases we are unable to utilize distribution microgrids energized by temporary generators the same way we can for Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). It can take hours to prepare the temporary generators for operation, and by the time the distribution microgrids would be activated following an unplanned outage, it is likely that power would already be restored.

While we work to make the electric system safer and more reliable, we also have outage-related resources available to help customers. Customers can find more information at safetyactioncenter.com.”

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