Last week, I talked to the PG&E governmental affairs representative for Richmond, Nkiruka Ohaegbu, who gave me a briefing on the outages. The main problem is caused by particulate matter on the lines and transformers that causes shorts when it rains. We have had several incidents of unseasonal mist or fog lately, and apparently, it rained some last night. The phenomenon, which typically happens annually, has been exacerbated by particulates from wildfire smoke.
Typical preventive measures include washing down the lines and transformers at poles. According to Ohaegbu, cities typically issue a citywide administrative permit to wash down all poles, whereas Richmond requires an individual permit for each pole, slowing down the process.
I have received a number of inquiries, some suggesting that Richmond’s infrastructure is old and vulnerable and that PG&E is not maintaining it. Ohaegbu has assured me this is not the case. If you want to contact Nkiruka Ohaegbu directly, the email address is copied above.