Living in the dark is bad enough, but not knowing when it ends makes everything worse.
As Pacific Gas & Electric neared another round of blackouts set to start Saturday, customers in the targeted areas braced for a weekend in purgatory. Everyone wanted to know: If I lose my power, how long until the lights come back on?
If your electricity goes off, it could be restored within a day or two, but be prepared for the outage to last up to a week, PG&E spokesman Paul Doherty said Friday.
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After the windy weather passes — in this case, perhaps on Monday — inspectors have to assess every line before turning power back on in each area, and they may find hazards or damage.
When PG&E launched an earlier round of blackouts this month, crews found dozens of lines damaged, some by falling tree branches, as well as compromised equipment.
In some areas, inspections and repairs are difficult to complete. Workers on foot or in trucks must trudge through mountainous terrain or squeeze through narrow access roads to reach equipment. And they can’t use helicopters at night.
Airspace restrictions, heavy winds and rugged land made inspections difficult in the Northern Valley and parts of Kern County early this month, leaving those residents without power longer than others.
During a smaller round of shut-offs this week, utility officials pledged to restore power within 48 hours. And crews were largely successful.
Power went out for 178,000 households and businesses in the Sierra Foothills and the North Bay on Wednesday afternoon. By Friday afternoon, PG&E had turned the power back on for 97% of those customers.
Some 3,220 people remained without electricity Friday in Sonoma County, where the Kincade Fire has blazed since Wednesday night.
PG&E has a few tips for people living in outage territory: Keep your contact information up to date with PG&E, since the utility sends several notifications before shutting the power off. Charge your devices. Keep an emergency supply kit with water and non-perishable food. Fill your gas tank and keep cash on hand.
Check PGE.com/PSPSUpdates for more information.