Power to be restored throughout Nevada County by Wednesday morning after PG&E safety shut-off

On Day Three of Nevada County’s most recent Public Safety Power Shut-off, many residents seem to have been taking the prolonged outage in stride.

The PSPS, which began around 3 p.m. Sunday, had an expected restoration time of 10 p.m. Tuesday for many addresses.

Some areas of Nevada County received the “all clear” on Monday to begin a search for damaged or downed power lines, including Penn Valley, Lake Wildwood, South County and west of Lake of the Pines. The weather “all clear” notification for the remaining impacted areas was issued at 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, according to PG&E spokeswoman Brandi Merlo.

“Following this all clear, PG&E crews are now beginning power restoration efforts in areas that are still out of power,” Merlo said in a Tuesday afternoon press release. “These remaining customers are expected to have power back on by late Tuesday evening or early (this) morning.”

According to Merlo, preliminary data showed at least 36 identified instances of weather-related damage and hazards in the PSPS-affected areas such as downed lines and vegetation on power lines.

“If PG&E had not de-energized power lines, these types of damage could have caused wildfire ignitions,” she said.

When PG&E’s planned shut-offs began in 2019, residents scrambled to buy generators, protect their food supplies and gas up their vehicles. By now — with four shut-off events this year alone — many of these precautions are becoming second nature, locals said.

“We now have a generator, so we are coping much better than we did in last year’s shutdowns,” Dolly Jaynes said. “Hearing the fridge and the freezer running is music to my ears.”

Tim Freeman also purchased a generator last year, but said he went even further this time, filling his bathtub and stocking up on bottled water.

“I slept deeply and comfortably in my warm and well lit home because I was prepared,” he said.

Having a planned shut-off after a big dip in temperatures was new, however, and the loss of a heating source hit some locals hard.

“I could see my own breath in my house yesterday,” Brittany Oviatt Gallo said in a Facebook message. “I don’t have a fireplace and have single-paned windows. I know a few people that rely on generators for medical reasons, and thank goodness they can afford them. My worry is the low-income people that cannot.”

Others said that even with generators, they lost phone and internet service — an issue of deep concern.

“Why does our AT&T landline go down every time we have a PSPS?” Sam Stroud said in a message. “We don’t have access to 911 and can’t receive potential evacuation orders. This is critical infrastructure and I have been told that they haven’t purchased enough generators to power everyone’s landline.”

Similar issues were raised with Comcast, with customer Maria Uribe noting, “I would like to know why Comcast does not have back up on their equipment. We have no idea what is going on without … internet service.”

Even though they expressed frustration with PG&E, several residents noted they would rather have their power shut off than lose their home to a power line-sparked wildfire.

“All I have to say is … if they would of turned off the power as scheduled in 2017 my house would not have burned down,” said Desiree Harvey, who lost her McCourtney Road home to such a fire in 2017. “I can manage a couple days without power because I know when it comes back on, I will still have my home.”

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at [email protected]

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