A Pacific Gas & Electric Co. drill planned for Friday will bring helicopters and ground-based crews to the Santa Maria and Buellton areas to inspect circuits as part of the exercise.

The utility company this week announced a companywide Public Safety Power Shutoff exercise to practice response during a simulated event. 

Power will not be interrupted as a result of the drill, PG&E representatives said.

“Given the continued and growing threat of extreme weather and wildfires, PG&E is enhancing our Community Wildfire Safety Program to further reduce wildfire risks and help keep our customers and communities safe,” a utility representative said. 

PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff program includes all electric lines that pass through high fire-threat areas — both distribution and transmission. 

In the event of extreme weather conditions, PG&E will proactively de-energize the lines, shutting off power for the safety of customers and communities.

During an actual PSPS event, crews will inspect every component along every de-energized line. That will include checking from the sky and from the ground to identify and repair damaged lines or equipment before restoring power.

During Friday’s drill, PG&E and contractor personnel will practice those inspections to reduce the time it takes to safely restore electrical service to customers. 

As part of the drill, workers will fly helicopters in the vicinity of Santa Maria, Buellton and Paso Robles between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Friday. Community members also may see more PG&E and contractor trucks than usual.

A free webinar about PSPS matters for residents of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties is scheduled for July 29, with links to the event or information about how to join the conference call available by clicking here. 

Information about the Community Wildfire Safety Program, including a schedule of upcoming open houses and more, also can be found on PG&E’s website.

PG&E serves the nothern portion of Santa Barbara County, while Southern California Edison provides power for the South Coast.

In the wake of massive wildland fires, both utilities have started implementing Public Safety Power Shutoffs under certain conditions — typically extreme weather with hot, dry and windy conditions — in an effort to reduce risk.

Information about preparing for a PSPS is available on the county’s ReadySBC.org website, on Edison’s website and on PG&E’s website.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.