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November 22. 2019

Power shutoff leaves South County residents in the dark

PG&E turns off electricity due to high fire danger

SOUTH COUNTY — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) shut off power to an estimated 9,000 customers in Monterey County over the weekend due to heightened fire danger caused by high winds and dry conditions in the area, including parts of South County.

Residents in Chualar, Gonzales, Soledad and northern Greenfield were left in the dark for up to 48 hours, beginning Saturday night, Oct. 26, and continuing through Monday, Oct. 28. Electricity was restored to most residences and businesses about midday Monday.

Other areas in the county impacted by the weekend’s power shutdown were Aromas, Royal Oaks, Gabilan Acres and the Gabilan foothills.

The outage was part of PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff program, which allows the California utility to turn off electricity when potentially hazardous conditions, such as gusty winds, are forecasted that could damage power lines and cause wildfires.

Several community resource centers were opened over the weekend in response to the power shutoff, offering air-conditioned places for residents to charge their electronic devices, use the restroom and grab bottled water and snacks. Greenfield Community Center, South County YMCA in Soledad and the Gonzales Fire Station all turned into service centers for those affected by the outage.

Most schools in the area remained open Monday despite not having any electricity, according to the Monterey County Office of Education. Schools that closed for the day included ‪Chualar School, ‪Gonzales State AM Preschool and Mission School in Soledad.

Hartnell College also canceled all for-credit classes in Soledad and Gonzales on Monday because of PG&E’s power shutdown. Lori Kildal, vice president for academic affairs, said the cancellation specifically affected classes offered at both Soledad and Gonzales high schools.

Hartnell’s classes at Greenfield High School and the King City Education Center were not impacted. 

PG&E announced another Public Safety Power Shutoff starting Tuesday, Oct. 29, due to more high fire risk conditions forecasted in the region, but Monterey County was not among those affected.

Monterey County Office of Emergency Services provides additional resources for residents to prepare for future power shutoffs at its website www.co.monterey.ca.us. PG&E customers can also check if their address will be affected by going to https://psps.ss.pge.com.

Ryan Cronk
Ryan Cronk
Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for the Salinas Valley newspapers King City Rustler, Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers education, government and general news for the cities of King City and Greenfield and occasionally for the surrounding communities in south Monterey County.

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