How You Should Be Prepared for a Public Safety Power Shutoff

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has planned an emergency Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) in anticipation of strong winds and dry gusts impact the Bay Area over the next two days. And while the PSPS event may impact Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano, San Mateo, and Sonoma counties, the SFPUC does not anticipate its water, power and sewer customers in the Bay Area to experience any interruption in services due to PG&E’s planned PSPS event.

If weather predictions hold, PG&E would shut down power as early as midnight tonight in the North Bay. The second phase could occur around noon tomorrow in the East Bay, with the final phase to occur the afternoon or evening in Kern county.

A photo of a PG&E vehicle. Photo courtesy: © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons. 

The shutoff is intended to prevent the utility’s power lines and equipment from accidentally sparking a fire, especially with anticipated high winds across the Bay Area. While the shutoff could last up to five days, most customers will likely have power restored sooner.

The SFPUC has regional water and power facilities near the areas of PG&E’s proposed shutdowns, and those systems have backup stationary generators with enough fuel onsite to continue operations for extended periods of time without PG&E power. San Francisco is not expected to experience any power shutdowns under PG&E’s current plans, so water, wastewater and power services will operate as normal.

The SFPUC will continue to coordinate with its private and public partners over the near term, both to inform residents and businesses about the situation, and to ensure continuity of critical services. 

An emergency kit with some essential items.

In the meantime, the SFPUC advises to take the following actions when being prepared for an emergency:

  • Water – Have at least one gallon per person per day for a minimum of three days. Be sure to include water for pets. Replace the emergency water supply every six months and store it in a food-grade container. In the event the emergency water supply runs out, treat tap water by boiling it for three minutes or disinfect by adding eights drops of bleach per gallon of water.
  • Emergency plan – Create or update an emergency plan and practice with family and friends. Be sure to know what to do in the event a tech down situation happens.
  • Emergency kit – Gather all essential supplies and make sure to periodically update the materials.

The SFPUC also encourages everyone who visits, lives or works in San Francisco to sign up to receive emergency alerts from the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management. It only takes a few minutes to sign up and the notifications help subscribers understand emergency situations that are happening.

PG&E has posted a list of counties that will be affected, including the number of customers.