Monday, October 28, 2019

2nd UPDATE: With Information Conflicting, Uncertainty Mounts on Looming Blackouts

Posted By on Mon, Oct 28, 2019 at 9:12 PM

2nd UPDATE:
PG&E spokesperson Deanna Contreras responded to a Journal inquiry this morning to clarify that Humboldt (southern), which was slated to lose power at 7 a.m. this morning, includes Garberville, Benbow, Redway and surrounding areas while Humboldt (northern), currently slated to lose power around 9 p.m., includes Willow Creek, Hoopa, Arcata and Eureka.

Contreras said she couldn’t give more specific information about which communities and cities were expected to be impacted because “the power lines run different directions.”

Kym Kemp, a reporter based in Southern Humboldt, estimates that most of the area still had power as of 8:45 a.m. but that roughly 500 are currently without electricity due to the Public Safety Power Shutoff.

Speaking to Lost Coast Communications this morning, Contreras also said that some of the confusion surrounding shut off times is due to the fact that PG&E has a Humboldt “division” that does not, in fact, include any of Humboldt County but instead includes portions of Lake and Mendocino counties. So one can imagine how PG&E might make a reference to Humboldt the “division” that local officials or residents would take to mean Humboldt County.

UPDATE:
Well, the miscommunications seemingly continue to mount at an alarming pace.

Someone at the Redwood Coast Energy Authority reportedly talked to a PG&E representative yesterday evening, which prompted the agency to put up a Facebook post advising locals that if they had power yesterday evening, they were likely to keep it through the night and through today until an approximate shutoff at 9 p.m. The post was shared widely and rapidly by Humboldt County residents tired of blackouts and looking for a bit of good news.

But in short order the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services posted to its Facebook page that, without naming it, RCEA’s post was inconsistent with the official word it was getting from PG&E and there may have been some “confusion due to PG&E having zones with different names, one of which is called ‘Humboldt’ but does not actually include Humboldt County.”

Less than three hours later, at about 11 p.m., PG&E issued a press release (copied below our original post) that includes the timeline for today’s round of Public Safety Power Shutoffs. It lists “Humboldt (Southern)” shutting down at 7 a.m. and “Humboldt (Northern)” going dark at 11 p.m.

We honestly don’t know what all this means but will endeavor to find out. In the meantime, the safe course seems to that if you have power, be as prepared as possible to lose it at any time and to do without it for some days. If you don’t have power, that may continue for some time.

(The latest PG&E press release does not include any estimates for restoration times but indicates the concerning “offshore wind event” prompting the shutoffs is expected to last through midday tomorrow, though the company advises its still analyzing whether it could event more shutoffs and “the extent of those shutoffs,” whatever exactly that means.)

Check the latest on school closures here.

PREVIOUSLY:
If you're out there in Humboldt County living high on the hog, standing with your refrigerator door open and your cell phone battery below 20 percent because you saw a Facebook post telling you that if you currently have power you won't lose it in the morning, please shut the fridge and go plug in your cell phone.

The Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services is warning that social media posts making the rounds and claiming that Humboldt County residents who currently have power won't lose it in the morning are plainly false. According to the latest information OES has from PG&E, the entire county will go dark early tomorrow morning, likely before dawn, as a part of another widespread blackout aimed at preventing wildfires amid windy, dry conditions.


Per OES, some of the confusion seems to stem from the fact that PG&E has a zone labeled "Humboldt" in its maps that doesn't actually include Humboldt County. (Really, PG&E? Come on.) That not-Humboldt zone is not slated to lose power until tomorrow evening but the actual Humboldt County remains in line, according to the company, to see power cut hours in advance of a high-risk weather system at 6 a.m. Residents should plan accordingly.

For more information on what OES is advising, as well as what schools are planning to be closed tomorrow, see our past coverage here. Also, with temperatures expected to dip into the 30s tonight, there will be several "warming stations" set up in the county tomorrow. See the press release copied below for details.

From the county:
WARMING STATIONS for Tuesday morning
Temperatures are expected to be rather chilly this evening, dipping into the 30's during the night. Below is a list of locations that are confirmed to be opening early at 8:00 am on Tuesday morning (10-29-2019) and can provide you with a place to warm up with a cup of coffee and charge your small devices (These locations are NOT shelters, they are intended for temporary services.):

Three Community Resource Centers will open warming stations will open at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29.

Arcata Community Center - 321 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway, Arcata

Humboldt Bay Fire Bode Classroom – 3030 L St., Eureka

Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department - 320 South Fortuna Blvd., Fortuna
Check out the interactive Google Map for other Community Resource Center information.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1iwfoF7pPLFq1mQkjy3ndtD_3X4uNWRmL&ll=40.81394180756435%2C-123.94988004999999&z=10

From PG&E:
OCT 29 PSPS UPDATE: PG&E Prepares for Next Offshore Wind Event Expected to Impact

Some 596,000 Customers Starting Tomorrow

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.—Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reported Monday evening that it had restored approximately 57% of the 970,000 customers who had their power turned off for safety as part of a Public Safety Power Shutoff that began October 26.

As of 10 p.m. today, about 556,400 customers had been restored in portions of the following counties: (county list*).

PSPS Event on October 29 Due to Wind Forecasts

PG&E is closely following another potentially widespread dry, offshore wind event on Tuesday, Oct. 29, through midday Wednesday, Oct. 30. The shutoff is expected to impact approximately 596,000 customers in for Northern and Southern Sierra, North Bay, Bay Area, Santa Cruz mountains, North Coast and Kern County. Given fluctuations in the forecasts, PG&E continues to analyze whether this wind event will prompt more safety shutoffs, and the extent of those shutoffs.

Timeline for safety shutoffs

The times below are estimates and may change (earlier or later) dependent on the dynamic weather environment. Times below as of 8:00 p.m. on October 28, 2019:



Phase — Time/Date — Counties

1 — 5 A.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 —Butte, Plumas, Tehama, Trinity, and Shasta

2 — 9 A.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 — El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sierra, and Yuba

3 — 4 P.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 — Alpine, Amador, Calaveras, and Tuolumne

4 — 7 A.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 — Humboldt (Southern), Mendocino, and Sonoma

5 — 7 A.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 — Lake, Napa, Solano and Yolo

6 — 9 P.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 — Humboldt (Northern) and Siskiyou

7 — 11 P.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 — Marin, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo

8 — 11 P.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 — Alameda, Contra Costa

9 — 9 P.M. Tuesday, Oct 29 — Kern

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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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