PG&E Cuts Power to 738,000 in Preemptive Strike to Prevent Wildfires

Pacific Gas & Electric officials kept their word to central and northern California residents last week. Not that many of those residents wanted them to.

The utility intentionally cut off power to approximately 738,000 customers. Why? Because of anticipated high winds and dry conditions that could cause wildfires.

There’s some history to this. Last year, strong winds resulted in devastating wildfires. They were later linked to PG&E’s transmission lines.

Lawsuits against the utility led to bankruptcy. Last month, PG&E agreed to give $11 billion to resolve claims from the Camp Fire in Butte County. That fire took more than 80 lives and burned 14,000 homes and businesses.

Another fire linked to PG&E’s transmission lines last year killed more than 20 people. And destroyed over 36,000 acres.

The Answer Is Blowing in the Wind

PG&E officials were trying to avoid the same situation this time around. They decided planned outages were the way to do it.

High winds were anticipated last week. Residents in 34 California counties were given advance notice of the outages.

Utility officials said this action would “proactively” reduce the dangerous effects of a potential “widespread severe wind event.”

In a statement about the outage, a utility spokesperson said this. “The decision to turn off the power was based on forecasts of dry, hot and windy weather. Including potential fire risk.”

How Long Would Outages Last?

Peak wind speeds were predicted to reach 60 to 70 miles per hour at higher elevations. This is the height of the wildfire season in California.

The biggest threat is strong winds blowing trees into power lines. Which could spark fires. A dry air mass swept across the region, adding to the problem.

The Napa County Office of Emergency Services said the power shutoff might last five days. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said it could be up to a week.

He added that residents should shelter in place. That’s because streetlights and signals would not be working.

Lights Off, Classes Cancelled

Southern California Edison also cut power to thousands. Then, when a truck driver offloaded burning trash in Riverside County, numerous homes were destroyed by fire.

Overall, the planned power shutoffs were historic in terms of the number of counties and people affected.

No electricity in people’s homes and businesses were the obvious result of this power outage. But what else was affected?

All classes at the University of California-Berkeley and Mills College in Oakland were cancelled. As well as at schools in a wide variety of districts.

And of course, residents and businesses had no functioning lights. Or air conditioning or heat in their homes and buildings.

Outages Cause Multiple Problems

Cassie is a resident just outside Placerville. She received an email notice from PG&E Monday night last week. It stated that an outage “may happen.”

Sure enough, the outage occurred at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday and lasted about 37 hours. The outage went on longer for some others in El Dorado County.

Cassie said that while she understands the reason for the outage, the winds were not as strong as had been predicted.

“There are so many problems connected with power outages,” she said. “And most people don’t even think about all of them.

PG&E ‘Not Adequately Prepared’

“I run a small business, but it’s impossible to stay open without power. All the cellphone towers were down, so we couldn’t even get service at home.

“Wifi services were cut, cable TV was down and the Internet was down. Traffic lights stopped working. Supermarkets sold out of water.

“One man passed away because he was on an oxygen machine that stopped working. People are worried about looting during an outage, especially when security cameras don’t work.”

PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said his company made the right decision regarding safety. But he admitted it failed to execute the outage properly. “We were not adequately prepared to support the operational event,” he said.

It’s More Important Than Ever To Be Self-Reliant

Nobody wants their power cut. But PG&E is calling this “the new normal.” Cassie said this same type of thing could happen again tomorrow, or next week, or even a month from now.

“There’s only one solution to this problem. And that’s to be prepared,” Cassie said. “Stock up on food and water, and have a reliable generator ready.”

And while Californians especially need to be prepared for these planned blackouts, it’s also important for people living in other areas.

You see, this past year alone, it was reported that 36.7 million Americans had some sort of outage in their area. Whether it be from natural disasters, vehicles, or even exhaustion on our electrical grid from ACs… the list goes on.

That’s why it’s never been more important to own a generator for when your power goes out.

Our top recommendation is our Patriot Power Generator.

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