By Angela Lombardi
Weather forecasts said they would be wet and windy winter storms. They were right. Fueled by an atmospheric river, the Jan. 7-13 series of storms wreaked havoc across Northern and Central California.
“It’s the biggest storm in a lot of people’s memories, probably 5 to 8 years,” said Pat Hogan, PG&E senior vice president, Electric Operations.
In all, rain, snow and wind created power outages impacting a total of 680,000 customers over the course of nearly a week. But PG&E had a plan — and lots of help.
“It has been an incredible response,” Hogan said. “And our customers have been a tremendous help to us. It’s been a really impressive response.”
More than 5,000 people were devoted to storm response, including mutual-aid crews from other West Coast energy companies. The goals were simple: Restore customer service safely and as quickly as possible.
For some, that meant working outdoors in the elements. Others, like Dave Gabbard, were in emergency centers.
“This is a huge storm with a huge impact on our customers, but luckily what’s even bigger than that is the response of the teams here and in the field have had to restore the power for our customers,” said Gabbard.
Understanding the intensity of the storm series — the worst in more than six years — PG&E customers were appreciative of the company’s crews.
“Preparation is the key,” Hogan said. “You have to have plans, and then you have to be able to adjust those plans.”
And, that’s important, because it’s only January and it looks to be a rainy winter. Crews are now focused on a new round of storms that began Wednesday (Jan. 18) and will continue through the weekend.
Megan McFarland, Matt Nauman, Lynsey Paulo and Jennifer Robison contributed to this story. Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.