PG&E begins another blackout. 400,000 still without power from weekend shutoff

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With power still out for more than 400,000 homes and businesses affected by PG&E’s largest-ever planned blackout over the weekend, the utility on Tuesday morning began cutting power to hundreds of thousands of customers yet again.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. on Monday confirmed it would shut off power for about 596,000 customers across nearly 30 Northern California counties due to yet another round of significant winds. Those winds have fueled several fires across the north state and accelerated the spread of the Kincade Fire burning in Sonoma County.

The first phase of Tuesday’s outage, which was set to affect over 40,000 customers across Butte, Plumas, Tehama, Trinity and Shasta counties, began a little after 4 a.m., according to PG&E’s live outage map.

This “public safety power shutoff” marks PG&E’s third in less than a week. Just over 556,000 of the nearly 1 million customers impacted by the weekend shutoff had their power restored as of 10 p.m. Monday, PG&E said in a news release.

Many of the same counties are involved in both Tuesday’s outage and the weekend outage. Because inspections required for power restoration activities can only happen during daylight hours with the weather “all-clear” given, those in the dark are likely to stay without power until Tuesday’s windy weather subsides. The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning due to those winds, in effect 8 a.m. Tuesday through 4 p.m. Wednesday.

PG&E has given estimated start times for nine different “phases” of the power shutoff, which will last Tuesday through at least midday Wednesday in some areas, as the final four phases won’t begin until around 9 p.m.

Four of the phases were planned to begin Tuesday morning, one in the mid-afternoon and four more later Tuesday night.

(The phases for the blackouts, as numbered by PG&E, are not in chronological order by their start times, which are tentative estimates):

  • 5 a.m., Phase 1: Butte, Plumas, Tehama, Trinity and Shasta counties
  • 7 a.m., Phases 4 and 5: southern Humboldt, Mendocino, Sonoma, Lake, Napa, Solano and Yolo counties
  • 9 a.m., Phase 2: El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sierra and Yuba counties
  • 4 p.m., Phase 3: Alpine, Amador, Calaveras and Tuolumne counties
  • 9 p.m., Phases 6 and 9: northern Humboldt, Siskiyou and Kern counties
  • 11 p.m., Phases 7 and 8: Marin, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa counties
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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.