PG&E scheduled power outage affects UC Berkeley classes, city

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PG&E announced another Public Safety Power Shutoff in the city of Berkeley due to unsafe weather conditions beginning Saturday at 5 p.m., impacting about 21,000 residents and UC Berkeley’s Monday daytime classes.

The power outage is a public safety measure being taken by PG&E as a result of gusty winds, dry conditions and an increased fire risk, according to PG&Es website. California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency Sunday because of the high winds that have resulted in fires and evacuations throughout the state.

As of press time, the outage is expected to last through Wednesday, according to a city press release.

PG&E disconnected UC Berkeley’s power at 10:30 p.m. Saturday to persist through Monday morning. As a result, campus canceled Monday daytime classes for the fourth day of class cancellation due to power outages in just over two weeks.

In a press release from Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, the city announced services for impacted residents, including a 24/7 dispatch line for community members who require transportation within 1 mile of the city. Other services include charging stations and free Wi-Fi at city libraries.

Alameda County also issued an air quality advisory Friday, stating that children, older adults and people with lung disease should reduce outdoor exertion.

“Responding to disaster really depends on how well everyone else prepares,” said city spokesperson Matthai Chakko.

Despite the city’s efforts, some residents and organizations such as Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have had their research affected by the outage.

Berkeley Lab spokesperson Laurel Kellner said in an email that the impact of the outage is felt not only in Berkeley, but also around the state and the nation. Kellner added that the Berkeley Lab’s national user facilities have 11,000 users annually, and hundreds of scientists are affected when the lab shuts down its light source, supercomputer and nano center.

“Events like these point to the need for infrastructure, technologies, and strategies that make our grid more resilient and minimize the impacts of disruptions,” Kellner said in the email. “The Lab is helping. Our scientific mission includes … strategies for energy grid modernization and resiliency.”

Contact Blake Evans at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @Blake_J_Evans.