With electricity restored to a total of about 228,000 customers throughout the Bay Area and beyond, the CEO of PG&E said Thursday evening his utility made the right call, but acknowledged that it could have done a better job in managing the outages.
“The buck stops here,” said Bill Johnson CEO and president of PG& E, citing crashing websites and inaccurate maps as just some of the problems that occured during the largest ever public safety power shutdown, which impacted a total of 738,000 customers.
“This is not how we want to serve you… We are actually in the business of providing power, not taking it away,” he added.
However, he defended the decision to conduct the shut downs. “I think we made the right call on safety,” he said. Of the more than 30 counties impacted, 21 experienced winds above 35 miles per hour, increasing the wild fire dangers.
By 5 p.m. Thursday, PG&E officials said electricity had been restored to a total of 228,000 customers, or 31 percent of those who experienced outages, and inspections leading to restoration were conducted in most regions by Thursday evening. However, they warned that the inspections cannot occur after dark, and that some customers should prepare to continue to be without power.
No more outages were anticipated, PG&E officials said.
Earlier in the day, Oakland city officials said the power shutoff went into effect in parts of their city at about 10:50 p.m. Wednesday, primarily above MacArthur Boulevard between Fruitvale and 106th Avenue and along the Skyline Boulevard and Grizzly Peak Boulevard corridor.
The city said earlier that, according to PG&E, about 16,000 customers in Oakland were impacted by the shutoff and remain without power, which equates to about 48,000 residents.
The city’s Emergency Operations Center remains operational and the Oakland Fire Department remains on high alert, given the extremely hazardous fire conditions.
In addition to their normal operations, firefighters have continued to conduct roving fire patrols in the Oakland hills, according to the city.
The Police Department and staff from the city’s Department of Transportation also deployed additional neighborhood patrols throughout the night and relayed information to dispatch about street light outages.
The city said engineers were promptly deployed to those locations to assess the infrastructure issues and provide traffic safety support at key intersections where signals were out.
About 80 signalized intersections in Oakland remain without power and motorists should treat them as an all-way stop.
The Hayward Fire Department said the power shutoff in its area late Wednesday affected 1,400 residences in the Hayward hills and 2,000 residences in the Fairview Fire Protection District, which serves parts of the Hayward hills and the Five Canyons area in Castro Valley.
The department said the city of Hayward has responded to the outage with increased and pre-positioned firefighters, police and emergency-dispatch staffing levels. However, some pre-positioned firefighters were dispatched to help fight a fire in the hills around Moraga in Contra Costa County early Thursday.
Hayward and Fairview Fire Protection District residents can call (510) 583-4949 or visit www.hayward-ca.gov/psps to get up-to-date information on the wind event and power outages. Residents are urged to avoid calling 911 except in an emergency due to anticipated increased service demand.
The city of Hayward has established a cooling and device-charging center has been established in the rotunda of City Hall at 777 B St. that will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. until it’s no longer needed.
A second Hayward center has been established by the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District at the San Felipe Community Center at 2058 D St.
It’s also scheduled to be open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Berkeley police said extra city staff, police and firefighters worked through the night to help those affected by the Public Safety Power Shutoff both in parts of their city and as mutual aid for fires in the East Bay.
The Fremont Police Department said the signal lights at Mission Boulevard and Niles Canyon Road are in flash mode and officers are directing traffic, as traffic in the southbound lanes is backed up to King Road.
The department said there is a small power outage in the area of Niles Canyon Road and Mission Boulevard and it doesn’t have an estimate on when power or the signal lights will be restored.
Police advised people to give themselves extra time if they travel through that area on Thursday.