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Santa Barbara County officials: PG&E incorrectly listed Santa Maria area in power shutoff list

Santa Barbara County officials say PG&E incorrectly listed the Santa Maria area when it released a list of communities that could be impacted by Public Safety Power Shutoffs.

The utility said Tuesday that 32 customers in Northern Santa Barbara County could lose power as soon as Wednesday.

Late Tuesday, a PG&E spokesman was unable to confirm exactly where the outage would take place, but said it would be in the “Santa Maria area.” KCOY/KEYT asked PG&E multiple times Tuesday night if it could clarify where the potential shutoff would be, but those requests went unanswered.

The utility’s website was also experiencing major issues, making it difficult to search for specific addresses.

On Wednesday morning, Santa Barbara County officials said the Santa Maria area was listed by mistake.

Local emergency officials say both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties are not impacted by any outages.

Just shy of one million PG&E and SoCal Edison customers began losing power Wednesday.

The goal of these planned power outages is to prevent the utilities’ equipment from sparking a wildfire.

Both have been blamed in recent deadly and devastating wildfires across the state, including the Thomas Fire which burned in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency management released a statement saying, “We are aware that both utilities are in the process of or have initiated Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) protocols for various areas of their service. The impact and scope of these power shutoffs is significant and widespread. However, the Santa Barbara County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has been actively engaged with both utilities and has been informed that Santa Barbara County is NOT being considered for the current PSPS events. OEM will continue to work with both utilities throughout this week as elevated fire weather and winds continue to impact California. Santa Barbara residents should go to to learn more about how to prepare for a potential PSPS event and register to receive notifications from local emergency response agencies should a PSPS event or other disaster occur within the county.”

PG&E spokesman Mark Mesesan released the following statement Wednesday morning saying, “As I think you’ve heard, we had 32 customers in Santa Maria who were notified in advance of our current Public Safety Power Shutoff event that their power might be shut off for safety reasons. They were listed in the first phase of de-energizations for this event, which began shortly after midnight last night. We did not de-energize any of these customers in Santa Maria, and they are no longer considered as customers who would be affected by the current PSPS event. The reason these customers were originally notified has not been determined. The current event is impacting more than 513,000 customers in 22 northern California counties, with another phase of de-energizations scheduled to be made at about noon today, which will affect about 234,000 additional customers in 12 more northern California counties. We’re also preparing for the possibility of a third phase of de-energizations on Thursday, although the time and locations for that are still to be determined and would be dependent on weather and ground conditions. FYI, in Kern County, an area also located in the southern area of PG&E’s service territory, customers have been notified in advance of that third phase of shutoffs due to forecast of extreme weather raising the risk of wildfire threat, with expectations their power will need to be shut off for public safety reasons. Naturally, we regret the inconvenience this event has caused our customers. We are learning valuable lessons from these PSPS events, and we are continuing to further assess how we can improve our operational process, customer notifications and assistance.”

KEYT 2019

Article Topic Follows: Fire

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