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US Inside California's power shutoff: No traffic lights and days of darkness

18:06  10 october  2019
18:06  10 october  2019 Source:   cnn.com

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Traffic lights down. Tunnels dark . Businesses unopened. Much of northern California is facing life without electricity or gas for as many as five to seven days on Wednesday, after the country’ s largest utility company cut power to an unprecedented swath of the state as a preventive measure against

Public Safety Power Shutoff in Marin is underway. Currently no traffic lights at the intersection of N. Bridge Some made light of the impending power outage, saying that waiting for it “feels like waiting for the start of the purge,” and planning how they’re going to commit “the perfect crime” under cover of

California's biggest utility has cut power to hundreds of thousands of residents to prevent wildfires, catching some by surprise despite months of warnings.

a sign above a store: This Starbucks in Sausalito, north of San Francisco, was among the businesses closed Wednesday during a massive, intentional power outage in Northern California.© Augie Martin/CNN This Starbucks in Sausalito, north of San Francisco, was among the businesses closed Wednesday during a massive, intentional power outage in Northern California.

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A forecast of strong winds is posing a major fire danger, prompting Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to launch the preventive outage to reduce the risk of blazes set off by power lines, the company said.

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PG&E, California ' s biggest power utility, cut power for more than a million people on Wednesday in the Some of the power shutoff 's biggest critics are those who rely on electric medical supplies for health Drivers were left trying to navigate the roadways when traffic lights went dark in parts of

– California ’ s biggest utility cut power to more than a million people Wednesday for what could be days on end in the most sweeping effort in state Hospitals would operate on backup power , but other systems could see their generators fail after a few days . Outages even posed a threat that fire

Here are some answers to key questions:

How long will the outages last?

At least a week for some.

The wind is expected to subside Friday, and PG&E crews will then examine their system for damage and begin to restore power for customers. That could take several days after the wind dies down, company officials said.

How many people will be affected?

PG&E cut power Wednesday to nearly 800,000 customers in Northern California, beginning a series of planned outages.

By the time the sequence of outages is over, nearly 2 million people could be affected as it drags on for days, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said. Customers across 34 counties will be affected.

Why deliberately turn off power?

Some of the deadliest fires in Northern California have been blamed on downed power lines.

PG&E: Power could be shut off for 800,000 customers

  PG&E: Power could be shut off for 800,000 customers Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is warning customers that the utility may shut off power to portions of 34 California counties this week because of a potentially widespread wind event. The potential Public Safety Power Shutoff could impact nearly 800,000 customers across Northern and Central California, the utility said Monday night. The strong and dry wind event, forecast for Wednesday morning through Thursday afternoon, could impact much of PG&E's service area, which includes northern, coastal and Bay Area counties. The National Weather Service has issued a fire weather watch for midweek.

With nearly 800,000 customers affected in the largest shutdown this year, the utility is hoping to avoid a devastating fire season.

California Highway Patrol warned commuters that the lights in the Robin Williams Tunnel on Overnight, the utility shut off power to more than half a million customers in Central, Coastal and Public Safety Power Shutoff in Marin is underway. Currently no traffic lights at the intersection of N

Last year's devastating Camp Fire that killed 85 people and destroyed thousands of structures was started by electrical lines owned by PG&E. The company filed for bankruptcy in January as it came under pressure from billions of dollars in claims tied to deadly wildfires.

To avoid being blamed for another wildfire, some utilities have decided to cut power during high winds when the fire risk is elevated. In addition to PG&E, utility company Southern California Edison is also turning off power to a small number of people in affected areas.

Will people be able to charge their phones?

PG&E has set up about 30 community centers that are providing services including air conditioning, restrooms, bottled water and electronic charging stations.

How about traffic lights -- are they working?

Probably not in affected areas, so don't try to get on the roads, the San Jose mayor said. If you reach an intersection without a working street light, treat it as a four-way stop, Liccardo said.

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Parts of Southern California could also go dark — Southern California Edison said it was considering implementing the Public Safety Power Shutoff plan to cut power to 173,000 customers. That would push the total to almost 1 million homes and businesses statewide.

As California faces a critical fire danger, utility companies are preemptively shutting off power to It could take several days to fully restore power , PG&E officials said Tuesday night. The California Highway Patrol is reminding drivers that if a traffic light is flashing, treat it as a stop sign intersection.

Gas stations and ATMs will also be down during the shutoff, he said.

Will it affect cell phone service?

With the power out, residents will mainly rely on their phones for updates and communication with loved ones. And major cell phone companies say they're working to ensure the cell service does not go off, too.

Major companies, such as Sprint and T-Mobile, said they have generators available at major cell sites to ensure they remain in service and they're deploying generators to those that don't have them.

"We have permanent generators in key cell sites to ensure they remain in service and other sites are prepared with battery backup," T-Mobile says.

What public facilities will be closed?

Police, fire, water, sewer and garbage-pickup services will continue, and the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system isn't expected to shut down, though some stations may face escalator outage.

A number of schools canceled classes on Thursday, including UC Berkeley and Sonoma State University. All schools in the Napa Valley and Cloverdale unified school districts, along with some Santa Rosa schools, will be closed Thursday, as well.

People who rely on medical devices are urged to get them charged at community centers that will remain powered, officials said.

Southern California back on fire watch as dangerous winds return; red flag warnings expanded .
Southern California is back on fire watch this weekend amid winds and warm temperatures, with Southern California Edison warning of possible preventive power outages. A small brush fire broke out Saturday morning in the Hollywood Hills off Stanley Hills Drive but was quickly extinguished by firefighters, who said there were no winds at the time. But that is expected to change throughout the region. The National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning for Santa Barbara County's south coast and mountain regions that remains in effect through Sunday night. The Real fire near Goleta started Thursday and burned 420 acres. It is now 50% contained.

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