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Power returns to the Valley

Bill Hoban/Index-Tribune This sign and a like sign were up Monday on the roundabout on Lake Street and Vailetti in Agua Caliente.

BILL HOBAN,

Almost everyone who lost power during the week-long fire storm should have their electricity restored by today, Oct. 17. Some people had been without power since early last Monday.

Not everybody who lost power lost it because lines or transmission stations were damaged by the fires. Cal Fire had the utility de-energize lines so that fire fighters wouldn’t have live lines overhead while they were fighting the fires.

Teresa Jimenez, a public information officer with PG&E, said that all electrical customers should have had power restored sometime Monday. “That’s assuming Cal Fire gives us the OK,” she said.

Altogether, some 342,000 customers in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties lost their power – and Jimenez said 94 percent had it restored by noon on Monday.

In Sonoma County, some 51,000 customers lost power.

PG&E has more than 3,000 employees and personnel from mutual aid partners restoring electricity and gas to customers.

While electrical service has mostly been restored, the utility is still trying to get gas service restored to its customers.

Jimenez said the company shut off gas service to 36,000 units affecting 42,000 customers. She said 23,000 customers have had their gas relighted, but there’s still an additional 15,000 who don’t have gas service and another 2,600 customers that the utility can’t get access to.

Nearly 900 workers, from PG&E and from other energy companies, have been working to re-light pilot lights in areas where it’s safe to do so.

Restoring gas service is a complex process, but progress is being made. Several factors are in play including PG&E’s access to fire zones, authorization from the proper authorities to restore gas, and the timing of when customers are allowed to return to their homes.

“For safety reasons, customers should leave the gas re-lighting to PG&E employees,” she said.

According to a release from Paul Moreno, with PG&E, once the utility gains access to homes and businesses, gas crews check the meter. Then they identify structures that are safe to restore service and those that have sustained too much damage to safely restore service. Because gas service was turned off to customers, any air present in the pipeline system is purged to ensure that natural gas is safely delivered to every structure. After that, the system would be resupplied with gas and pressure tested to make sure it is safe.

Jimenez said gas customers can check the webpage to see when service is scheduled to resume, or they can call 800-743-5000 for gas re-lighting only.

Email Bill at bill.hoban@sonomanews.com.