PG&E crews and contractors inspected nearly 25,000 miles of distribution lines and 2,500 miles of transmission lines after the event, a combined distance that’s longer than a trip around the Earth.
More than 100 instances of damage were found during inspections, including trees into lines and downed power lines, with the analysis of additional damage reports ongoing. It is possible that any one of these instances could have been a potential source of ignition had a PSPS not been initiated.
PG&E’s meteorologists and fire-weather experts participated in daily interagency calls with experts from multiple National Weather Service (NWS) offices and the Northern Operations Predictive Services. All the experts were aligned that this was a very high fire risk event and had all the ingredients necessary for significant fires. The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning that lasted from Wednesday afternoon until Friday morning that included locations where 2.1 million of PG&E’s customers live. The Red Flag Warning encompassed a larger area than the PSPS footprint. Maximum wind gusts exceeded 50 mph in 16 counties impacted by the PSPS event:
Sonoma County: 77 mph
Contra Costa County: 75 mph
Tehama County: 61 mph
Sierra County: 59 mph
Butte County: 56 mph
Napa County: 54 mph
Santa Cruz County: 54 mph
Placer County: 53 mph
Yolo County: 53 mph
Solano County: 53 mph
Alameda County: 52 mph
Humboldt County: 52 mph
Kern County: 51 mph
Lake County: 51 mph
Mendocino County: 51mph
Santa Barbara County: 50 mph
The vast majority of the 738,000 customers in 35 counties impacted by the PSPS were restored within 48 hours.
Representatives from CAL FIRE, the CPUC and Cal OES were in PG&E’s Emergency Operations Center, participating in discussions. The company also held twice daily calls with state agencies and calls with county agencies three times a day. To prepare for wildfire season, weekly meetings were held with state agencies and 17 planning workshops were held with cities, counties and public-safety agencies.
In all, 6,300 personnel, including PG&E workers and contractors, supported the PSPS.
PG&E dispatched 44 helicopters to do aerial inspections.
PG&E’s Customer Care team completed multiple daily notifications to customers before, during and after the event. This includes notifications and support of more than 30,000 Medical Baseline customers.
PG&E opened more than 30 Community Resource Centers in PSPS-affected areas, providing water, restrooms, phone-charging and other services. In all, more than 5,400 customers visited a CRC.
PG&E placed advertisements on TV, radio and digital sites. The company used Facebook, its nine Twitter accounts, and Nextdoor to share updates on the PSPS and conducted more than 900 interviews with media during the event.
Before the PSPS Event
In 2012, just 15% of PG&E’s territory was designated as having an elevated wildfire risk on the fire-threat maps in effect at that time. Today, in 2019, approximately 50% of the service area is in Tier 2 or Tier 3 high fire-threat areas.
PG&E’s electric infrastructure underwent an unprecedent inspection and repair process earlier this year. More than 700,000 electric-system poles, towers and substations were inspected, and any items needing immediate repair were repaired.
To prepare for wildfire season, PG&E sent letters/emails to about 5 million customers; sent out more than 7 million PSPS-related emails; participated in 998 meetings with cities, counties, customers and community groups; and held 23 community open house events throughout the service area.
PG&E has installed 600 weather stations and 100 high-definition cameras in high fire-threat districts for increased situational awareness. PG&E also has deployed its Satellite Fire Detection and Alerting System, which incorporates data from five satellites to provide advanced warnings of new potential fire incidents.
PG&E reached out to its customers to make sure the company had accurate contact information. So far this year, 246,932 customers have updated their information including 10,966 Medical Baseline customers.