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Where to go during PG&E’s Bay Area blackout

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Resource centers will offer bottled water, air conditioning, and generators to charge phones and other devices

Electrical equipment and wires in silhouette. Via Shutterstock

Pacific Gas and Electric expanded the footprint of its midnight mass blackout, which will affect 34 counties and nearly 800,000 residents, including parts of Marin County.

The utility company will also open community centers today, October 9 at 8 a.m. to assist customers.

PG&E estimates the outage will last at least 36 hours as the company waits for wildfire conditions to pass, but could continue as long as a week for the sake of inspections before restoring electrical service.

“The company has been notifying potentially impacted customers and will continue to do so, via automated calls, texts and emails,” the company said Tuesday. “However, customers not impacted by the [planned blackout] may experience power outages due to PG&E equipment damaged” by high winds without warning.

Power shutoffs began in the North Bay early Wednesday morning.

Here’s everything PG&E customers in the Bay Area need to know:

  • The potential blackout area includes Napa, Marin, Sonoma, Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo counties. San Francisco’s power will remain on.
  • Not every part of every potentially affected county and city is under warning. To check if a specific locale is expected to lose power, consult PG&E’s address search tool. But be warned, due to the high volume of traffic, the PG&E site is intermittently down.
  • The company will operate “community resource centers” providing resources like bottled water, air conditioning, and generators to charge phones and other devices in some of the affected areas. The announced centers currently include:
  1. 900 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo
  2. Calistoga Fairgrounds, 1601 N. Oak, Calistoga
  3. Avaya Stadium, 1123 Coleman Avenue, San Jose
  4. Bishop Ranch Parking Lot, 2600 Camino Ramon, San Ramon
  5. Pasta Moon Restaurant, 845 Main Street, Half Moon Bay
  6. Mission Church, 6391 Leisure Town Road, Vacaville
  7. Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building, 1351 Maple Avenue, Santa Rosa
  8. Merritt College Lot B, Leona Street, Oakland
  • Caltrans initially said it would close the Caldecott Tunnel and Tom Lantos Tunnel during the power outage, but also cautioned that “this remains a fluid event and could change by the hour.” But according to Andria Borba of KPIX, “PG&E is installing four generators inside the Caldecott Tunnel, so it will not have to close.” [Update: Caltrans said late Tuesday evening that the Caldecott Tunnel will remain open, at least for Wednesday morning.)
  • BART says it anticipates no interruptions in service, even for stations within areas that lose power on Wednesday.
  • Tens of thousands of people in the affected counties qualify for PG&E’s “medical baseline customer” program, discounting power costs for customers with certain medical conditions. This includes those “dependent on life-support equipment used in the home,” patients with “with special heating and/or air-conditioning needs,” including “life-threatening illness, compromised immune system, or other medical conditions” that rely on climate control for long-term and short-term health.