186,000 without power in North Bay as PG&E begins planned power outages

At least 186,000 PG&E customers are currently without power in the North Bay as the utility company starts its Public Safety Power Shutoffs across several regions of the San Francisco Bay Area early this morning.

VIDEO: PG&E answers questions: What does it take to turn power back on, where to go for updates

PG&E says this is phase one of the outages that could impact nearly 800,000 customers across Northern and Central California.

LIST: Counties, cities affected by PG&E power outage in Bay Area, rest of California

PG&E says they will initiate a second de-energizing phase between noon and 5 p.m. to another 300,000 customers, including Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz counties.

A third phase is being considered for the southernmost portions of PG&E’s service area, impacting approximately 42,000 customers. Specific locations are still to be determined.

MAPS: PG&E power outage is affecting these Bay Area cities

PG&E says the decision to turn off power was based on forecasts of dry, hot and windy weather including potential fire risk. However several residents have noticed little to no wind this morning in the region. That could change by this afternoon with gusts expected to pick up.

The strongest winds are forecasted to reach 60 to 70 mph at higher elevations, according to forecast models being used by PG&E.

NORTH BAY

There are 186,000 people without power in Marin, Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties according to PG&E.

Traffic has been a mess with back ups at several intersections due to the outage.

A strike team of firefighters has been patrolling in and around Napa Valley to make sure residents are safe.

EAST BAY

Power outages could impact 32,680 residents Alameda County and 51,310 residents in Contra Costa County starting at noon.

The Caldecott Tunnel could be closed due to the outage. Crews are working to provide backup generators so that it can remain open.

In Hayward, city officials are increasing firefighter, police and emergency-dispatch staffing levels. A cooling and device-charging center at city hall.

“We believe in backups, and backups, and backups,” said Andrea Pook, a spokesperson for East Bay MUD.

Pook says EBMUD, rented 29 portable generators, to pump water to their customers since much of our water supply relies on electricity too.

LIST: Schools impacted by potential PG&E power shutoff

“What we want to do is preserve that water supply, so what we’re asking people to do is conserve water, shut off their outdoor irrigation, when the PG&E power shut down occurs.”

“This is not a good contingency for their customers,” said Marilyn Varnado, who lives in the Oakland Hills. Like many people in the Bay Area, she checked into a hotel, when she found out her home was in an outage area.

“Most people don’t realize what an outage really means,” said Varnado, who added, “stop lights are not going to be working, there’s going to be a lot of crazy things going on and I just think there’s going to be some tragedies because of that.”

SOUTH BAY

There are 38,000 PG&E customers that could be impacted by the outage in Santa Clara County. However, San Jose says as many as 200,000 people could be impacted in the city. Resident have been stocking up on supplies as they prepare for the outages.

San Jose city officials held a news conference early this morning to give an update on preparations underway.

RELATED: Are you ready for a blackout? Here’s how to prepare if PG&E cuts electricity during high wind, fire danger

PG&E says power restoration will begin Thursday afternoon after the weather event. PG&E crews will then have to inspect every inch of their power lines and infrastructure, and depending on damage from the expected wind, power could be off in some areas until Monday or Tuesday.

PG&E says as the weather evolves, they will provide updates about the power shutoff and restoration timing.

For the latest stories about PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff go here.

ABC7 News’ Laura Anthony, Amy Hollyfield, Jobina Fortson and Kate Larsen contributed to this report.

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