If you live in California, you’ve likely heard about (and probably experienced) PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS). This program involves intentionally cutting off power to certain areas in order to reduce the risk of wildfires. While the intention is noble, it can be frustrating and inconvenient for home and business owners affected by it.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what a PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) is, why it’s necessary, and how you can protect your home and family from these types of power outages.
What is a PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS)?
PG&E is a utility company that provides electricity and natural gas to many California residents and businesses. In response to the increasing threat of wildfires, PG&E implemented the Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program, which intentionally cuts off power to at-risk areas when the threat of wildfires is high. This may include times when there are strong winds, low humidity, and dry vegetation.
The purpose of PG&E’s Power-line Safety Program (PSSP) is to reduce the risk of wildfires that are caused by power lines when strong winds hit dry vegetation. By shutting off the electricity in certain areas, PG&E is trying to prevent these fires from starting.
Even if your location isn’t in an area at risk of wildfire or experiencing strong winds, you may still experience a power outage if your business relies on a power line that runs through an area experiencing severe weather conditions.
Alternatively, a nearby neighborhood may be served by a different power line than the one that serves your home. In a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) scenario, this could mean that you experience an outage, but your neighbor’s lights stay on. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the possibility of a power outage in your area and take steps to prepare for it.
Why is a PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) necessary?
In 2020, the threat of wildfires increased as California saw some of its worst blazes in history. The 2018 Camp Fire was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state, killing 85 people, destroying 18,000 structures, and leaving thousands missing.
Climate change has played a major role in California’s wildfires in two ways. Rising temperatures and drought conditions have made the state vulnerable to more frequent, severe fires—and its population boom has led developers into fire-prone areas.
By implementing the PSPS program, PG&E is taking proactive steps to reduce the risk of wildfires. Though the program comes with difficulties and inconveniences, it plays a crucial role in keeping California residents safe.
Frequently Asked Questions About PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) Program
Whether you’re a homeowner, business owner, or just want to understand more about PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoffs, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about the program and how it can impact you.
What is the purpose of PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff?
The purpose of PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) is to reduce the risk of wildfires during high wind and dry conditions. The utility company turns off power to at-risk areas to prevent electrical equipment from sparking a fire, which protects communities and minimizes infrastructure damage.
How does PG&E determine which areas will be affected by a PSPS?
PG&E determines which areas will be affected by a PSPS based on various factors, including current and forecasted weather conditions, live fuel moisture readings, and the potential for strong winds. The company also studies whether the risk of fire from its power lines or electrical equipment is high in that area. This information is used to create a PSPS plan, which outlines which areas will have their power shut off and when.
Will PG&E notify me before a PSPS event?
Yes, PG&E is required by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to send “Public Safety Power Shutoff Warning” notifications up to four hours before your power is shut off. Since 2022, PG&E is now required to send these notifications 24 hours a day, including phone calls, SMS texts, or emails between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. PG&E is also required by the CPUC to send “power is restored” notifications 24 hours a day within 24 hours after severe weather has passed in the affected areas.
How can I prepare for a PSPS event?
To prepare for a PSPS event, it’s important to create an emergency plan, including having backup batteries and charging electronic devices, stocking up on food and supplies, and having alternative light sources such as flashlights. It’s also important to know your local community resources and evacuation plans in case of a wildfire.
How long will the power be out during a PSPS event?
The length of a PSPS event can vary and depends on several factors, including the severity of weather conditions and the extent of necessary inspections and repairs to PG&E’s electrical infrastructure. The company typically provides updates on the estimated duration of outages and when power will be restored, but it’s important to prepare for the possibility of extended outages and to have a backup plan in place.
How To Protect Your Home and Family During a Power Outage
If you live in an area that is at risk of a PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), there are steps you can take to protect your home and loved ones from a power outage. First, sign up to receive alerts and be notified when a Public Safety Power Shutoff is announced.
Another effective option is to invest in solar + battery storage. While installing a solar panel system will save you money and help the environment, your panels alone can’t keep the lights on during a power outage. Pairing solar with a home battery can provide a reliable source of power during outages and blackouts. As long as there is stored energy available, a home battery can ensure that your home or business continues to have electricity, even when the sun isn’t shining or PG&E shuts the power off.
While power outages can be inconvenient, PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program is an important public safety measure to reduce the risk of wildfires in California. Staying up-to-date with PG&E alerts and preparing ahead of time can help protect your home and family during these outages.
To determine if installing a home + battery storage system is right for your home energy needs, our certified Energy Consultants can help you determine which solar battery is best suited for your home. Contact us today for a free customized quote.
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