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PG&E begins inspections, says power should be restored by Friday night

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Attorneys painted starkly different pictures of PG&E and their oversight over natural gas infrastructure during closing arguments of a federal criminal trial on charges of violating a pipeline safety law.

PG&E Thursday gave a weather “all clear” to customers affected by its Public Safety Power Shutoff that began Wednesday in the North Bay and Sierra foothills above Interstate Highway 80, and the utility company will begin inspecting its equipment before it restores power.

Customers in San Mateo County got an all clear Thursday morning when wind conditions improved, and the utility company will monitor conditions in Kern County where windy weather is expected to continue into Friday.

The power shutoff affected 179,000 PG&E customers in 17 counties.

PG&E said it expects all customers will have power by Friday night or sooner pending any damage found during inspections of its electric system.

The restoration starting Thursday entails deploying 5,800 on-the-ground field personnel and 42 helicopters, but helicopter inspections may be impacted by the 10,000-acre Kincade Fire in the Geyserville area of Sonoma County that started Wednesday night.

PG&E said the Kincade Fire broke out in the vicinity of Geyserville where the power was shut off by 3 p.m. Wednesday. The Kincade Fire started at 9:27 p.m. Wednesday northeast of Geyserville, according to Cal Fire. PG&E did not say whether the power would remain off in that area. PG&E said it is “working with authorities to gather additional information.”

PG&E said it is closely following a potentially strong, widespread, dry offshore wind event coming Saturday that is significant in scope. The wind event could impact the Sierra foothills, North Bay, Peninsula, Central Coast, East Bay and Humboldt County.

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