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Winter Storm Tips

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 6, 2002
CONTACT: PG&E News Department (415) 973-5930

PACIFIC GAS AND ELECTRIC COMPANY READIES FOR SERIES OF "EL NINO" WINTER STORMS, OFFERS TIPS TO KEEP CUSTOMERS SAFE

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SAN FRANCISCO ­ The first series of winter storms is forecast to bring wet, windy weather to Northern and Central California beginning today and continuing through the weekend. Weather experts say rain may be heavy at times and snow is likely in the higher mountain elevations. Winds, gusting up to 40 miles per hour and higher, are expected in many parts of the state.

This winter season, meteorologists are predicting a complete range of weather conditions ­ sunny mild to stormy cold ­ inspired by the familiar El Nino weather pattern. The 18,000 men and women at Pacific Gas and Electric Company are prepared to provide responsive service and timely information for its 14 million customers.

"When Mother Nature strikes, PG&E employees are ready to respond to emergencies, both on the phones and in the field," said Gordon Smith, president and chief executive officer at the utility. "The company works year round to ensure we are prepared when the winter weather returns to Northern and Central California."

The company's customer communications system includes three state-of-art call centers where customers can find out about power outages and the length of time they might be without electricity. In addition, by providing information to customers, these call centers, capable of handling more than 600,000 calls an hour, also receive information from customers that can alert dispatchers to trouble spots.

Throughout its service area, Pacific Gas and Electric Company has permanent emergency coordination centers established in key regional positions. A centralized command center in San Francisco, powered by the latest technology, coordinates all information on weather, customer service outages, deployment of the company's emergency personnel, and the relaying of vital information to customers through the news media.

As regular maintenance and to assure the best possible service, PG&E patrols every mile of every line, every year ­ all 110,000 miles of electric distribution system. By the end of 2002, the company expects to spend approximately $140 million on its vegetation management program, trimming trees and removing the worst ones entirely, to help prevent tree branches from coming into contact with power lines and causing outages.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company has recently unveiled the Safety Corner, a new section of the company's web site dedicated to providing customers important information about storm preparation and safety. Those tips include:

  • Treat all downed power lines as if they are "live" or energized. Keep yourself and others away from them and immediately notify PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 or call 911.
  • Have battery-operated radios and flashlights with fresh batteries ready for updates on storm conditions and power outages.
  • PG&E recommends that customers do not use candles because of the risk of fire. If you must use candles, extreme caution is urged. Do not use candles near drapes or under lampshades. Keep candles away from small children, and do not leave candles unattended.
  • Empty, clean plastic milk jugs and 2-liter soda bottles can be used for water. Ice can be made in 2-liter soda bottles. Three 2-liter soda bottles with ice are about the same as a 10-pound block of ice that you buy in the grocery store. Blue Ice from your picnic cooler also works well in the freezer. With minimal opening and shutting of doors, food should remain usable for up to three days.
  • If you have a generator, inform PG&E and make sure that it's installed safely. If it's not, you risk damaging your property and endangering PG&E line workers who may be working on power lines some distance from your home.
  • If your power goes out, unplug or turn off all electric appliances. Otherwise, when power is restored, several appliances may come back on at once and overload your circuits, or hot appliances may come on while you're away or asleep and pose a fire hazard.

For more information about Pacific Gas and Electric Company, please visit our web site, www.pge.com


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