Update: Berkeley had no outages Monday, but they could still come

Tens of thousands of PG&E customers in Berkeley could lose power Tuesday and Wednesday because of high energy demands statewide, the city says. PG&E said there were ultimately no rolling outages in California on Monday.

A PG&E substation in West Oakland, August 15, 2020. Photo: Pete Rosos

Update, Aug. 18: PG&E said it did not have to use rotating outages to cut power to anyone in California on Monday: “Favorable weather helped, along with huge support from PG&E customers — including homeowners, small, medium & large, industrial and agriculture businesses — who came together to conserve electricity.” The statewide heatwave is slated to continue, however, and Berkeley has advised residents to prepare for possible outages through Wednesday from 3-10 p.m.

Update, Aug. 17, 6:35 p.m. Power outages in Berkeley on Monday may last up to five hours and could recur Tuesday and Wednesday from 3-10 p.m., the city says.

Update, 5:53 p.m. Authorities in Berkeley have just announced that 33,964 PG&E customers “will be included in rolling blackouts this evening. PG&E has not indicated the areas that will be affected. For more information call PG&E at 800-743-5000. If you have a life-threatening emergency, call 9-1-1.” City staff sent out an alert with this new information at about 5:50 p.m., a few minutes after PG&E informed the city of these details.

Original story: Some areas of Berkeley may lose power Monday “because of high energy demands statewide,” Berkeleyside has learned.


Alameda County has been sending messages throughout the day about the possibility of outages, but none of them included specific information about Berkeley. Local residents also received robocalls about what were described as the possibility of “rotating outages” in the area. Officials have said reducing energy use could avert outages during the ongoing heatwave.

Just before 4:10 p.m., city staff sent Berkeley council members an email saying “some part or parts” of Berkeley could lose power for one to two hours between now and 10 p.m. Monday. The city is trying to get more information from PG&E about where the outages will happen, how long they will last and whether any medical baseline customers — people who need electricity for their medical needs — will be affected, said one person who received the email.

The county has asked local residents and businesses to conserve power from 3-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday due to the expected strain on the grid from what’s been described as a record-breaking, persistent heatwave.

“Due to heightened power demands statewide, PG&E and the state ISO [Independent System Operator] have issued a statewide flex alert starting today and lasting until August 20th. From 3-10 PM, please conserve energy use in your household,” Alameda County officials wrote Monday in an AC Alert message. “There is a strong possibility of rolling blackouts throughout the state. This means there is a potential of losing power to your area due to overload on the electrical grid. There is also a potential for local heat related outages not associated to these rolling black outs. Please be make preparations for a potential loss of power to your household.”

More information is available online at http://www.flexalert.org.

Energy conservation tips from authorities include raising the thermostat, using fans, covering windows, avoiding oven use, keeping the refrigerator closed as much as possible and confining laundry and dishwashing to early in the day or after 10 p.m.

The city had not provided its email to Berkeleyside or shared any other information as of publication time despite repeated inquiries. PG&E has not responded to a request for information.

Berkeleyside will share additional details if they become available.

Emilie Raguso is Berkeleyside’s senior editor of news. Email: emilie@berkeleyside.org. Twitter: emraguso. Phone: 510-459-8325.