PG&E begins safety shutoff, condemns alleged attack on field personnel

PG&E de-energized parts of their grid in Sonoma and Napa counties Wednesday afternoon as part of their second Public Safety Power Shutoff to prevent wildfires, and they plan to shutoff power to parts of San Mateo County early Thursday morning.

“A few hours ago we initiated a public safety power shutoff across portions of the Sierra Foothills and the North Bay,” PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said during a news conference early Wednesday evening.

In total the shutoff is expected to impact 179,000 customers across portions of 17 California counties.

Community resource centers with on-site electricity and other services have been set up in Calistoga, Cloverdale, Santa Rosa and Sonoma as well as roughly 20 other locations across the state.

Forecasters expect the dry, windy weather prompting this shutoff to dissipate sometime between 10 a.m. and noon Thursday. Once the all-clear has been given, PG&E will deploy 42 aircraft and thousands of ground personnel to inspect distribution and transmission lines.

Crews will need to inspect about 8,000 miles of distribution lines and 600 miles of transmission lines for threats to public safety before the power can come back on.

Meanwhile, Johnson is concerned about hostility at PG&E personnel in the field. He believes a pellet fired from a pellet gun struck a PG&E vehicle Wednesday.

“Earlier today one of our employees in Glenn County was the target of what appears to be a deliberate attack,” Johnson said.

“Let me say this directly: there is no justification for this sort of violence,” he said.

“Be upset at PG&E, don’t take it out on the people trying to help you,” he added.

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