Power Outage Recap and Preparing for Future Possible Outages

August 16, 2019

Power Outage Recap

Many Mill Valley residents experienced a widespread power outage on August 15, starting around 11:10 pm and lasting until about 2:00 am this morning. The outage was part of a widespread PG&E power failure in Marin, impacting over 60,000 customers – 60% of the customers in the County.

Around 11:30 pm, County emergency officials sent a Nixle message letting the public know there was a widespread power outage and asking community members not call 911 unless there was a life-threatening emergency. Messages were also sent out through several social media channels and an update was posted to the City of Mill Valley website. PG&E posted updates to their outage page at

PG&E reports that PG&E attributed the outage to complications from emergency repairs at the Ignacio substation in Novato and work at a separate, unrelated PG&E project nearby.

“There was an issue with the set-up of the protective systems for the projects, which resulted in the outage,” PG&E spokeswoman Deanna Contreras said. “This was not a public safety power shutoff situation.”

Preparing for Future Possible Outages

Although the outage was not related to PG&E's Community Wildfire Safety Program, we wanted to take this opportunity to remind residents that in future weeks or months, if extreme fire danger conditions threaten a portion of the electric system serving the Mill Valley community, it may be necessary for PG&E to turn off electricity in the interest of public safety. This is called a Public Safety Power Shutoff or “PSPS.”

If we have an extended power outage, community members should expect:

  • Disruptions to communications, school schedules, traffic, and public services.
  • The closure of retail businesses, grocery stores, gas stations, ATMs, banks, and other services.
  • Food spoilage and water limitations.
  • Non-operation of medical devices.

The City Council will review the City's plans and preparations for a PSPS at their City Council meeting on September 5, 2019. The Staff Report and Draft PSPS Plan and Playbook will be posted for community review and comment in upcoming weeks.

Here are some recommended actions you can do today to prepare.

  • Update your contact information with PG&E. Go to or call 1-866-743-6589.
  • Plan for any medical needs - Talk with your doctor and plan for medications that need refrigeration or medical devices that require power. 
  • Keep a hard copy of emergency phone numbers on hand - Know who to call in an emergency. This should include at least one out-of-town contact that may be better able to reach family members in an emergency.
  • Build or restock your emergency supply kit - Stock supplies to last a week - include flashlights, fresh batteries, first aid supplies, food, water and cash.
  • Plan for alternate ways to charge devices - Consider purchasing a solar-powered or hand crank charger. These chargers are good emergency tools to keep your laptop and other small electronics working in the event of a power outage. If you own a car, purchase a car phone charger because you can charge your phone if you lose power at your home.
  • Plan for the needs of pets and livestock.
  • Designate an emergency meeting location.
  • Keep your car tank at least half full - Gas stations rely on electricity to power their pumps.
  • Practice manually opening your garage door. Know where the manual release lever of your electric garage door opener is located and how to operate it. Garage doors can be heavy, so know that you may need help to lift it.
  • Consider staying with a friend or relative during an outage.
  • Ensure any backup generators are ready to safely operate - Generator safety tips can be found at

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