Upwards of 700,000 California residents lost power on Wednesday after Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) implemented a public-safety power shutoff. 

While much of northern California lost electrical power, Del Norte County’s power was unaffected.

On the other hand, local residents did see some impact from the energy issues facing their neighbors in Humboldt County. At least some local hotels experienced a spike in room rentals when a stream of Eureka residents booked rooms Wednesday night, according to Best Western Inn’s staff.  

One of the motel’s guests in Crescent City said he had been told there were no additional rooms available.

Due to several coinciding weather conditions, PG&E shut off power as a pre-emptive measure to keep its electrical equipment from sparking wildfires. 

While power outages occurred in surrounding counties, including Humboldt County to the south, Del Norte County did not experience outages. The county’s power is supplied by Pacific Power Co., not PG&E.  

Pacific Power spokesperson Drew Hanson said that prior to the 2019 wildfire season, the company adopted a public0safety power outage measure into its safety plan. The measure states that areas susceptible to wildfires would be eligible for fire safety measures, including pre-emptive power shut offs. 

Pacific Power has not had to implement the power shut offs since adopting the measure, but even if it did, Del Norte County is not particularly susceptible to fire danger, according to Hanson.  

Regardless, Hanson recommends residents be prepared for a power outage year-round with a plan and an emergency kit. 

If the area had met certain conditions, the power would have been shut off, according to Hanson. He added winter weather storms can cause power outages, which Del Norte County does experience.

The power shut off in surrounding counties was a response to at least five conditions occurring simultaneously, according to PG&E spokesperson Tony Khing. Those conditions included the National Weather Service declaring a red flag warning, low humidity levels, winds above 25 miles per hour forecasted, observations from PG&E field crews and dry fuel on the ground. 

“There’s not a single factor that drives a single power safety shut-off,” said Megan McFarland, a PG&E spokesperson. “All those factors together help us determine whether we are going to proactively shut off the power.”

Around 126,000 customers had power returned on Thursday morning, but another 600,000 customers remained in the dark. 


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