BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Unprecedented power outages across our state are now underway, while a shutoff in Kern County is still to be determined
“We are doing everything we can to keep our customers and communities safe and initiating a PSPS is one of those ways we are keeping our communities safe,” said Katie Allen, PG&E spokesperson.
PSPS stands for public safety power shutoff. This is part of a program initiated last year to proactively shut off power when there is high fire danger in an area.
Allen Says they’ve had six shutouts since the program started. Tuesday’s power shutdown which affected 500,000 homes and businesses is the largest, followed by one that affected 60,000 last year.
“There are many factors we look at before calling one. those factors include a red flag warning, which is called by national weather service, humidity levels, wind levels, dry vegetation, and conditions from the ground, as well as information from our command center and the field,” said Allen.
She adds all those factors must be in place for a PSPS watch to go into effect.
The watch is only the first phase of the PSPS event. During the watch, customers living in the area determined to be at high fire risk will be notified of a possible power shut off,
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that a PSPS is inevitable because weather conditions do change,” said Allen.
The next phase is a PSPS watch, customers will be notified that their power will be shut off and when.
And following the weather event, PG&E crews will perform safety inspections in affected areas before the power gets restored.
The latest information from PG&E is that the shut off could affect up to 4,000 homes and businesses in Kern County. Many residents living in various areas of the county, including Bakersfield, already have received the watch notification.
The biggest question, why is it affecting customers living in areas that aren’t seeing the forecasted weather conditions?
“It’s important for our customers to remember that our electric system is interconnected,” said Allen. “While some customers may not be seeing those high-risk fire conditions in their area, they may be served by electric lines that are seeing it.”