Loss of Commercial Power

PG&E Definitions of PSPS Levels

PG&E Weather Forecast

Check this page for the latest information on possible PG&E power shutdowns based on current and projected fire conditions. You can also see areas that have received notification at the PG&E map page.

These are the definitions that PG&E uses when discussing possible power shutoffs:

  • Not Expected – Conditions that generally warrant a PSPS event are not expected at this time.
  • Elevated – An upcoming event (a period of gusty winds, dry conditions, heightened risk) is being monitored for an increased potential of a PSPS event.
  • PSPS Watch – The company Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is activated for a reasonable chance of executing PSPS for public safety in a given geographic zone due to a combination of adverse weather and dry fuel conditions. A PSPS watch is typically only issued within 72 hours before the anticipated start of an event.
  • PSPS Warning – The company Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is activated and customers in areas being considered for PSPS have been or are being notified. This level indicates execution of PSPS is probable given the latest forecast of weather and fuels and/or observed conditions. PSPS is typically executed in smaller and more targeted areas than the PG&E Geographic Zones. This level does not guarantee a PSPS execution as conditions and forecasts may change.

What Is a PSPS?

In order to decrease the chance of wildfires, PG&E is planning to shut off power when dry vegetation conditions exist along with Red Flag Warnings (high winds and high temperatures). Public Safety Power Shutdown conditions hundreds of miles away could impact power for the Lab. It is expected that we will receive 48 hours advance notice for planned shutdowns, however, electrical shutdowns necessary for an immediate fire threat could occur with little to no warning.

While we certainly hope conditions will not make it necessary to turn power off for the Lab, it is a possibility, and as good stewards of the Lab’s resources, we must plan for it. PG&E power outages can last hours, days, or weeks until the hazard is no longer present and lines have been examined and repaired.

What Will Go on Generator Power?

Equipment that is needed to prevent the loss of irreplaceable research, living specimens, or to protect materials that could become hazardous, such as pyrophoric chemicals in fume hoods, will be designated as mission-critical. This may also include equipment that cannot be safely shut down by a procedure. Mission-critical equipment will be moved on to generator power or will be shut down following a prescribed process when notified of a power shut off.

Employee Impact

Employees will not be able to enter the Lab premises once power has been shut off since there will be no operational lighting, ventilation, and safety features. The Emergency Operations Center will be activated and there will be designated personnel on-site to monitor conditions at the Lab.

Safe and Stable Shutdown

If you work in a lab setting, these safety guidelines will help you prepare for any planned loss of power.

Keep in Contact With the Lab and Your Supervisor

Staying in contact is vital in any emergency. Make sure your contact information is updated in the Lab's Human Resources system and with your supervisor.

To update your contact information in the system, go to https://hris.lbl.gov/self_service/login/

Click on Name/Home Address Change from the menu on the left side of the screen. Click on Update Phone, then add a phone number or edit as needed. The HR system will be available to the emergency management team if needed during an emergency.

Your supervisor may also build a phone tree for your work group. Please keep your supervisor up-to-date on any contact information changes.

Elevated and Extreme Fire-Threat Areas

The Lab's main location is in a fire zone designated as an extreme fire threat due to an elevated hazard for the ignition and rapid spread of powerline fires due to strong winds, abundant dry vegetation, and other environmental conditions.

These are areas where utility infrastructure and operations will be subject to stricter fire‑safety regulations. This increases the chance that power will be cutoff to the Lab if conditions warrant it. The conditions that will drive a public safety power shutoff include:

  • red flag warning
  • high winds and wind gusts
  • low humidity
  • dry vegetation
  • fire threat to electrical infrastructure


At Home Preparations

  • Sign up to receive emergency notifications from PG&E
  • Identify back-up chargers for cell phones including solar chargers
  • Keep paper copies of critical phone numbers
  • Check your emergency kit and add or replace outdated food and medical supplies
  • Check that your flashlight batteries are working and have extra batteries in all sizes
  • Have cash on hand
  • Keep a full gas tank as much as possible
  • Charge your vehicle if it is electrical
  • Know how to manually open an automatic garage door
  • Plan for medical needs such as medicines that need refrigeration
  • If you live in a multi-tenant building, talk with your building manager about preparation steps that have been taken.

During a Power Outage

  • Unplug or turn off appliances, equipment and electronics to avoid damage caused by surges when the power is restored.
  • Leave a single lamp on to alert you when the power returns. Then, turn your appliances on, one at a time.
  • Typically, your refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours and a full freezer will keep its temperature for about 48 hours--as long as the freezer and refrigerator doors are kept closed. Consider using coolers with ice to keep food cold and safe.
  • Be sure to use generators, camp stoves or charcoal grills outdoors only. Do not use a gas stove for heat.
  • Check on your neighbors.

Telephone Service In a Loss of Power

The following information comes from the California Public Utilities Commission webpage on communications during a loss of public power. You can read more at the CPUC webpage.

Will my telephone work if there is no power? It depends.

  • Wireline customers who subscribe to POTS (plain old telephone service) voice service using copper lines generally have service during a power outage. This is because the central office that serves the residence as backup power, which provides the electricity necessary to operate a wired telephone during a power outage.
    • The CPUC does not have rules mandating backup power for this service, however most central offices do have and maintain backup power.
    • Cordless phones require the end user to maintain the batteries in those devices, so that the home portion of the telephone service can operate in a power outage.

  • For VoIP customers, service during a power outage depends on the underlying facility used by the provider. Some VoIP providers will maintain line power (some variants of DSL) during an outage, and others rely on network power which may or may not be present.
  • Cable subscribers with voice service may or may not have service in a power outage.
    • The CPUC does not have rules mandating backup power for this type of service.

  • Wireless (cellular) customers may or may not have voice service in a power outage, depending on the backup power installed at cell sites.
    • The CPUC does not have rules mandating backup power for this type of service.

  • It is the responsibility of the customer to obtain the required backup power in the residence to have working telephone service during an outage event. This might include batteries for cordless phones, routers, WIFI, fiber termination devices, and other customer premises equipment.