Residents in a dozen Northern California counties could see their power shut off over the weekend as gusty winds increase the risk of wildfires, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. announced Friday.
Customers in Colusa, Glenn, Shasta and Tehama counties were under watch for possible preemptive power outages Saturday, but the company warned that high winds and dry conditions could make shut-offs likely in up to 11 counties across the state by Sunday morning.
Northern California and the Great Basin are expected to see some light rain Friday night and into Saturday morning. But PG&E said in its statement that the rain is expected to be followed with by 25- to 40-mph winds, along with lower humidity levels that could increase fire risk.
“This period of gusty winds and lower relative humidity will increase wildfire potential and PG&E meteorology will continue to monitor the details of the upcoming event,” the company said.
The planned outages are expected to affect mostly counties in Northern California, but other counties in the state were also being monitored for possible outages until Monday.
The power company listed customers in Colusa, Glenn, Shasta and Tehama counties as seeing possible outages on Saturday. The outages could affect just a portion of the county, the company said, but up to 1,124 customers could be affected, including 119 residents who rely on power for medical conditions.
The Saturday shutdown could begin as early as 9 a.m., the company said.
According to PG&E, officials were monitoring weather conditions and the possibility of outages in Butte, Colusa, Fresno, Glenn, Kern, Lake, Napa, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Tehama and Yolo on Sunday. Some of the counties would continue to be monitored until Monday.
The power company has initiated planned outages in the past in order to reduce the risk of sparking large wildfires. Last month, the company reached a $117-million settlement in connection with the 2018 North Bay fires and 2018 Camp fire.
The fires were sparked by downed power lines and faulty electrical equipment operated by the company, decimating communities and killing 85 people in the Camp fire in the Northern California town of Paradise. PG&E pleaded guilty in 2020 to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the fire.