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Mother Lode Should Be Prepared For Possible Blackouts During Fire Season

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Sonora, CA — Calling it a “measure of last resort,” the state’s public utilities commission is hoping to finalize a plan next month for companies like PG&E wishing to de-energize lines during times of high fire risk.

PG&E has been under pressure in recent years as a growing number of high profile fires have been linked to its equipment. The company is proposing to de-energize lines, if the need arises, as a preventative measure. The outages could last multiple days.

Clarke Broadcasting reached out to PG&E regarding if Tuolumne and Calaveras counties could see periodic outages. Spokesperson Jeff Smith replied, “We are telling all five million of our customers that they have the potential to be impacted, and that they should have a plan should their power need to be turned off because of extreme fire risk.”

Smith adds that there is no single factor that would drive a so called “Public Safety Power Shutoff,” but he notes that factors include a “Red Flag” fire warning from the National Weather Service, low humidity levels, forecasted sustained winds above 25 mph (or excessive winds over 45pm), extreme fuel conditions, and on the ground observations.

Smith notes that PG&E’s goal is to send customer alerts 24-48 hours prior to shutting off power. He adds that more information is expected to be known, and released, next month.