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Local residents impacted by planned PG&E power shutoffs use generators, candles

Posted at 5:25 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 23:01:59-05

Hundreds of PG&E customers on the Central Coast are without power due to a Public Safety Power Shutoff.

Those impacted are primarily just east of Highway 101 between Arroyo Grande and Santa Maria in unincorporated areas like Huasna or near the Twitchell Reservoir.

The PSPS went into effect just after 8 Tuesday morning for parts of San Luis Obispo and Northern Santa Barbara Counties. Gusty winds prompted PG&E to turn off power for the more than 460 residents.

"You get in this canyon like this and the wind really blows," said Steve High who lives in rural Nipomo not far from Upper Los Berros Road.

He says he doesn't mind the shutoff and that it comes with the territory.

"They gave us a warning yesterday," High explained. "I got two calls saying that it was probably going to happen and a timeline and kinda what to do like freeze some water bottles and stuff to keep your freezer cold."

He says he'll be relying on battery operated candles and lanterns.

"I kept an old style phone that I can plug in so that I still have phone service because without the power we don't have WiFi to make WiFi calls on our cell," High said.

Most everyone we talked with had a backup plan.

"It's not a big deal," said Cole Milton. "It just makes things at the end of the day a little more difficult. Fire up the generator, use that power, kind of conserve."

PG&E says it chose these specific regions due to prime fire conditions.

"Very low humidity levels, generally 20% humidity and below. Forecast of high winds. We've had very gusty winds with gusts above 45 miles per hour and I'm told even higher than that. Very dry material in these particular locations," explained Mark Mesesan, PG&E Communications Representative.

This is the first PSPS for the Central Coast.

Those impacted can utilize PG&E's Community Resource Centers. One is set up at the Grover Beach Community Center and another in Santa Maria at First Christian Church. WiFi, restrooms, and charging equipment are available.

Meantime, High says the shutoff is just a minor inconvenience compared to the potential destruction of a wildfire.

"I think it's a great idea because if this canyon burned it would impact a lot of people. You know this stuff burning, it would be hard to put out," High concluded.

PG&E is monitoring the conditions to determine when the PSPS will be lifted.