Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has been cutting off electricity for customers in northern and central California over the past weeks in an attempt to avoid sparking wildfires. But this could be the utility’s largest outage this year.
Estimates indicate the potential outage could affect more than 2 million people, a spokesperson with the company said.
Customers across 36 counties in Northern and Central California may lose power through the weekend due to a round of gusty winds in the state, the utility announced Friday.
Some of the areas that may be impacted are Humboldt, the Sierra foothills, Western Sacramento Valley and the greater Bay Area.
“The upcoming wind event has the potential to be one of the strongest in the last several years. It’s also likely to be longer than recent wind events, which have lasted about 12 hours or less,” said Scott Strenfel, a PG&E meteorologist.
Forecasters are expecting winds of 30-55 mph with gusts of 60-80 mph beginning Saturday night, the National Weather Service said. High-speeds winds like that can blow down trees, power lines and made it difficult for most vehicles to travel, including those pulling trailers.
While the shutoff is not confirmed yet, the utility said it could begin Saturday between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. (local time) and last until midday Monday.
The planned power outage could last for several days, the utility said, to prevent a “catastrophic wildfire.”
In recent years, PG&E has been under fire for the role its equipment played in a series of catastrophic blazes across the state, including last year’s deadly Camp Fire.
CNN’s Sarah Moon and Alberto Moya contributed to this report.