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Emergency Preparedness: Flex Alerts and Public Safety Power Shutoff Events

Emergency preparedness kit supplies
  • Jackie Randazzo

As summer begins in California, the threat of severe weather like warm temperatures and strong winds will become more likely over the next several months. This can result in a Flex Alert or a PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff event. What is the difference and how can you prepare?

Flex Alerts vs. Public Safety Power Shutoffs
A Flex Alert is a request for customers to voluntarily conserve electricity during times of high electricity demand from 4 pm – 9 pm to help avoid or reduce the size of rotating power outages. Hot weather, particularly persistent heatwaves, can result in a Flex Alert since more people are using electricity, such as to power air conditioners, which can strain the power grid. These alerts are issued by the California Independent System Operator (ISO), which oversees the state’s electrical grid.

A Public Safety Power Shutoff are planned power outages to keep the public safe during high fire-threat conditions, like warm temperatures and strong winds. This could cause trees or debris to damage electric lines and cause wildfires. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) calls Public Safety Power Shutoff events since they generally manage the distribution of electricity to and in San Francisco.

What to Do: Flex Alert
Help California reduce the need for rolling blackouts when a Flex Alert is called. 

  • Sign up for Flex Alert notifications from the California ISO or follow us on social media at @MySFPUC or @CleanPowerSF.
  • During the Flex Alert between 4 pm – 9 pm, defer use of major appliances, close blinds, and drapes, and use fans when possible. 

Check out more tips at CleanPowerSF.org/SaveEnergy.

What to Do: Public Safety Power Shutoff
Losing power brings challenges, so preparing in advance is key. 

If a Public Safety Power Shutoff is called, utilize these resources to navigate the event. 

  • PG&E Alerts: Enter in your address to get details for current and future PSPS outages and view the outage map in real-time.
  • Check your email or our social media channels (@MySFPUC or @CleanPowerSF) for updates.