PG&E testing power shutoff notifications through Alexa devices
The Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) is testing a notification system that uses Alexa-powered devices to warn customers of an upcoming planned safety power outage (PSPS) event.
The announcement was made Wednesday evening during a wildfire preparedness seminar held by PG&E officials for government leaders and customers in Solano and Yolo counties.
The feature is part of a broader pilot program that is powered by the Energy Expert smartphone and tablet app. A customer with that app can connect their Energy Expert account to their Amazon account and receive PSPS warnings through the Alexa-powered smart speakers and other devices.
PG&E says the pilot program is expected to last through the end of the year. It was not clear if the program would expand to other smart speakers and devices like those powered by the Google Assistant, Samsung's Bixby or Apple's Siri.
The Energy Expert app can be downloaded for Apple phones and tablets by clicking or tapping here, or for Google's Android-powered phones and tablets by clicking or tapping here.
During the wildfire preparedness seminar on Wednesday, PG&E said its average PSPS event in Solano County last year was a little more than 30 hours, and that it took around 12 hours to re-energize lines after a PSPS event. This year, PG&E says it is committed to issuing fewer PSPS events and shortening the time customers are without power.
PG&E also says it has removed a low-income requirement for customers who want to receive a backup battery for medical devices and other necessities when they live in high wildfire threat zones. Other customers in wildfire-prone areas may be eligible for a rebate from PG&E when they buy their own generator or battery backup system.
For more information on the battery backup handout program and the generator and battery backup rebate program, click or tap here.