PG&E may shut off power in northern California counties, affecting over 12,000

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said Friday night it may shut off power to thousands of customers within the next 24 hours in some Northern California counties due to elevated fire risks.

PG&E said that residents in parts of Butte, Plumas and Yuba counties could interrupt power Saturday as the utility monitors forecasts of windy conditions through the weekend, according to spokeswoman Brandi Merlo. She said 12,026 customers could be affected in those areas. PG&E is also closely monitoring the weather in El Dorado, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Tehama, and Yolo counties, she said.

A red flag warning was issued Friday morning by the National Weather Service, warning of high winds and low humidity throughout the weekend in the affected counties as well as the Sacramento Valley. These conditions could help to rapidly spread a wildfire. The weather service says the area with the highest threat is in the northern coast range and eastern Sierra foothills from Saturday night into Sunday morning.

PG&E noted in a release that a high wind period between 10 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sunday would be the most dangerous part of the weekend, and readings leading up to that point could lead to a shutoff.

“The weather changes quickly so we’ve issued this warning in an abundance of caution,” Merlo said.

PG&E has turned off power twice in the last in the last two weeks, leaving 21,000 customers in Butte, Nevada and Yuba counties,in the dark on Sept. 23. Power was shut off again on Sept. 24 in seven Northern California counties, affecting nearly 50,000 customers.

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Mack Ervin III covers breaking news and high school sports for The Bee. A journalism student at Sacramento State, he follows auto racing and most other sports.