Sanders said PG&E has installed sectionalizing devices and is being aggressive on vegetation management to lessen the impact of PSPS on the community. He said PG&E’s entire focus is on lessening the impact of PSPS on customers.
Winters is almost entirely outside of those tier 2 or tier 3 high fire threat areas, Sanders noted. According to a slide in his presentation, there are 92,564 PG&E customers in Yolo County with only 114 of them in high fire tier districts and the majority of these are in the foothills.
Sanders said PG&E is improving their ability to sectionalize and isolate areas, like the City of Winters, to limit customer impact during PSPS periods. He said with these improvements it was unlikely Winters would experience a PSPS event like the one the town experienced in 2019.
“PSPS is working, and despite the impact to customers, it has definitely saved us, at a minimum from fire ignitions, but definitely from impact to customers,” Sanders said.
New in 2021, Sanders pointed to customer notifications in 16 languages, having 5,500 batteries available covering low-income medical customers in high fire-threat areas, targeting ADA accessible community resource center sites, monitoring for wildfires with new high-def cameras, meal replacement options for customers and developing additional partnerships with community-based organizations like Meals on Wheels.
During times of severe weather conditions, power may need to be turned off to prevent wildfires. High winds can cause contact between branches and debris to power lines and to prevent fires, PG&E may need to turn off power.
Sanders said, “we’re laser-focused on mitigating the effects of wildfires stemming from our system. It is important to acknowledge that PSPS does work and where deployed it has been highly effective.”
Rolling blackouts, Sanders explained, are not implemented by PG&E, but by the California System Operator when the statewide transmission grid capacity appears to fall below the forecasted demand on any given day.
Sanders cautioned that home and business generators need to be professionally installed by qualified electrical workers and permitted so during outages current isn’t back-fed into a broken conductor.
For more information and to sign up for PSPS alerts, visit pge.com/wildfiresafety.