As part of its ongoing commitment to keep customers and the communities it serves safe and informed, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) announced an improved emergency website and redesigned customer notifications for Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events this wildfire season.
When PG&E calls a PSPS event due to extreme weather conditions, customers visiting pge.com will be directed to the “Safety & Alert Center” website which will provide more detailed and accurate information as much as two days before the shutoff.
The new emergency website was designed with a mobile-first approach to optimize the experience on mobile devices. The new site is cloud based for improved scalability to handle high traffic levels and is currently available in six languages other than English with more coming. The new site is also ADA-accessible.
Improved Tools and Maps
Improved tools include a new “all-in-one” map that combines three critical tools (address search, PSPS forecasted area maps and current outage maps) in one place.
Maps have been upgraded for 2020 to be more precise and provide more accurate details. Last year’s address lookup tool has been redesigned to offer a text-based “no map” view of current and future outages. New address lookup tool will help those on lower bandwidths get the information they need faster. Customers will also see simplified content and information that’s easier to read at-a-glance.
“We asked our customers and stakeholders what are the most important things that they need to hear from us during an emergency. We are listening to our customers and acting on what we hear,” said Laurie Giammona, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer. “For example, we have improved the emergency information on our website. Now, when you go to www.pge.com during an emergency, information is easier to find, more accessible and user-friendly. We believe that all customers deserve to have access to the information they need in the language of their choice.”
During the Oct. 7, 2019, PSPS event, pge.com was unavailable for customers due to the increase in the number of visitors. The website received more than 30 times the normal volume of traffic. The new website is optimized to load quickly and has been tested to more than six times the peak traffic seen during 2019 PSPS events.
Improvements have also been made to PG&E’s customer notification process before, during and after a PSPS event. The more detailed notifications will show the date of the shutoff, the address that will be affected and estimated shutoff and restoration times. When possible, PG&E will try to notify customers of a PSPS event via automated call, text message or email two days prior, the day before, and just before power will be turned off. After power has been turned off, daily updates will be provided until power has been restored.
Reflecting the diversity of its customer base, PG&E’s emergency website will be available in 13 languages by September. Currently, the website is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Russian, Vietnamese and Korean. Six additional languages will be available by September to include Farsi, Arabic, Hmong, Khmer, Punjabi, and Japanese. Customers will have the opportunity to choose their language of preference for viewing the information when visiting the emergency website landing page at www.pge.com/pspsupdates.
When a PSPS event is called, customers with their preferred language set to Spanish will receive notifications in Spanish. For all other languages, customers will receive notifications in English with the option to get to in-language versions. Updates will also be provided via social media channels, local radio and TV outlets including multicultural media outlets. Customers can choose their preferred language for notifications by visiting www.pge.com/mywildfirealerts or by calling 1-800-742-5000, where in-language support is available.
Reducing the Risk of Wildfire
A PSPS will only be done as a last resort when the most extreme fire danger conditions are forecasted to help reduce the likelihood of an ignition and help keep customers and communities safe.
No single factor drives a PSPS as each situation is unique. PG&E carefully reviews a combination of many criteria when determining if power should be turned off for safety. These factors generally include, but are not limited to:
A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service;
Low humidity levels, generally 20 percent and below;
Forecasted sustained winds generally above 25 mph and wind gusts in excess of approximately 45 mph, depending on location and site-specific conditions such as temperature, terrain and local climate;
Condition of dry fuel on the ground and live vegetation (moisture content);
On-the-ground, real-time observations from PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Operations Center and observations from PG&E field crews.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 23,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit pge.com and pge.com/news.