SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. - UPDATE 10/10/2019 10:25 p.m. Santa Cruz County officials said the entire county has been given the "all clear" for PG&E to start power restoration.
Local law enforcement says they were told by PG&E Thursday night that the utility aims to return power to 98 percent of Santa Cruz County customers with outages.
Parts of Santa Cruz County saw power being restored immediately after the announcement. Late Thursday, PG&E sent KION a higher, updated total for how many customers lost power in Santa Cruz County. They are reporting 50,086 customers impacted, with 17,296 having their power restored by 5 p.m. Thursday. PG&E says the re-energizing process could take between 24 and 48 hours.
The main campus at UC Santa Cruz had its power restored before 6 p.m., according to a university spokesperson. Classes and regular business will resume on Friday.
Captiola's Thursday night city council meeting was canceled because power did not return in time to City Hall. However, Capitola Police tells KION power largely returned to the city by 10 p.m. Thursday.
In a press conference Thursday night, PG&E defended the decision to go forward with the planned safety power shutoff. During inspections, they reportedly found multiple cases of damage from the wind, like fallen branches on power lines. The company says this could have caused fires had the lines been energized
"With winds like we saw over the past 24 hours or so and the condition of the vegetation, we simply could not continue to run parts of this system given the risk to public safety," CEO Bill Johnson said.
Johnson, however, also addressed concerns in with their outage communication. PG&E tried multiple attempts to put up a website where people can access the latest outage and expected outage information. The websites crashed because too many people were on the site at the same time.
"We did not deliver on that commitment at this time. Our website crashed several times, our maps are inconsistent, perhaps incorrect, our call centers were overloaded. To put it simply, we were not adequately prepared to support the operational event and this will improve."
In total, more than 700,000 customers lost power in California in the planned shutoff. As of 6:46 p.m., Thursday, more than 500,000 customers remain in the dark. Governor Gavin Newsom called the shut off effort, "a story about greed and mismanagement over the course of decades. Neglect. A desire to advance not public safety but profits."
In a press conference Thursday, he said this shouldn't happen in this day and age.
"We're seeing a scale and scope of something that no state in the 21st century should experience. What's happened is unacceptable."
PREVIOUS STORY: Santa Cruz County residents are reporting on social media that some areas are starting to see power restored.
The county also said it is receiving reports of power being restored in some neighborhoods.
One person we spoke to tell us they did not receive a phone call or text message before the power came back on.
Santa Cruz County officials said earlier Thursday afternoon that the power restoration process is beginning in some parts of the county.
PG&E said on social media that it has received the weather "all clear" for parts of the county, so crews will begin inspecting lines.