It’s hard to imagine the Bay Area, home to numerous tech giants, out of electricity.
But that might actually happen. According to AC Alert, Alameda County’s official alert system, PG&E could shut down power to over 35,000 residents and businesses in the county, starting 5 a.m. Oct. 9. According to PG&E, power could stay off for up to five days.
Areas that may be affected include portions of Livermore, Pleasanton, Sunol, Castro Valley, San Leandro, Hayward, Fremont, Union City, Oakland and Berkeley. Dublin was not on the list of affected cities as of Tuesday afternoon.
Sgt. Ray Kelly of Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said the most affected areas will be near the hilly regions of the county, stretching from Berkeley to Fremont.
At press time, Livermore city officials were studying which areas were likely to be affected and planned to post the information on social media. The current PG&E map shows lands around Del Valle Regional Park, for example.
According to Pleasanton city officials, three areas of the city likely will be affected by the shutdown starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday: Foothill Road (south of Bernal Avenue to the Sunol Area); the Happy Valley, Sycamore and Callippe Golf Course areas; and parts of Ruby Hill and possibly the Vineyard Corridor Area. The city has critical infrastructure in those areas, including water tanks, pump stations, traffic signals and sewer lift stations.
Virtually all of Sunol is shown as an area that will lose electricity.
PG&E is implementing the emergency shutoff in response to a high wind advisory and red flag fire warning for the area. According to the National Weather Service, winds in Alameda County can be expected in the range of 20 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 55 miles per hour.
The combination of high winds and dry temperatures present an increased risk for wildfires, which can be further exacerbated by the risk of power lines sparking. The preemptive fire prevention move by the energy giant comes off the heels of one of the deadliest wildfire seasons in the state’s history.
PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff measures are part of a potential Bay Area-wide shutoff that could potentially affect 30 counties and an estimated 250,000 households.
Alameda County residents are encouraged to find other sources of energy for light and electronics. AC Alert recommends fully charging devices in advance. Candles are not recommended, as they have the potential to start fires, according to the National Weather Service.
On Tuesday, PG&E said customers were experiencing delays in accessing the utility’s website, due to increased traffic to its power shutoff information page.
To prepare for long-term outages, AC Alert and PG&E recommend signing up for their alert systems and stockpiling food, water, first aid supplies and medication to last several days. They also recommend having spare batteries, a flashlight and a radio handy.
PG&E will provide updates of public shutoffs on their website, www.pge.com. Residents can also enroll in PG&E’s automated system by dialing 1-877-9000-PGE. Alerts will be delivered via automated call. To sign up for text alerts, text "ENROLL" to 97633.