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Wed Oct 9, 2019, 09:15 AM

California Power Outages: Fire Danger Prompts PG&E to Cut Electricity

Source: New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — Large swaths of central and Northern California were without electricity on Wednesday as the state’s largest utility began cutting power as a safety precaution.

The utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, said that as of early Wednesday morning power had been cut to around 500,000 of the 800,000 customers who will be affected. Once fully implemented on Wednesday the outages will span from the doorstep of Silicon Valley to the foothills of the Sierra.

... snip ...

More than half of all counties in California — 34 out of 58 — are expected to be affected by the power cut, according to PG&E, one of the country’s largest utilities.

... snip ...

The deliberate power cuts have been described by PG&E as a way to lower the risk of fire while the company proceeds with its vegetation-trimming program. But by no means does it remove the risk of fires entirely.

Climate change, years of drought and the construction of houses and communities in wild land areas have all contributed to the spate of intense and deadly fires in California in recent years. In addition to electrical equipment, the direct causes of the fires have included lawn mowers, campfires, arson and, in one case, a man trying to plug a wasp’s nest with a metal spike.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/09/us/pge-shut-off-power-outage.html



To all our west coast DUers ... stay safe

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Response to UpInArms (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2019, 09:26 AM

1. 500,000 .. 800,000 customers -- and aren't there on average about 2.5 people per account?

meaning 2,000,000 million or so population affected?

This is so 3rd World.

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Response to progree (Reply #1)

Wed Oct 9, 2019, 09:34 AM

2. Very bad news for the poor and sick who can't afford to live in the cities

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Response to UpInArms (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2019, 09:47 AM

3. 500-800000 sounds low. My daughters in the Bay Area and my mother in Eureka are

are all getting ready for the outage. A lot of people in between

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Response to UpInArms (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2019, 10:23 AM

5. Detailed article without x articles/month quota. So. Cal could be affected Thurs

A few choice excerpts of a good long article about the mess this is creating -- like long lines at stores to buy stuff needed to prepare, and running out of course and all that

https://kstp.com/national/millions-face-power-outages-in-northern-california-as-risk-for-wildfires-increase-october-9-2019-/5519436/?cat=12678

The winds will be the strongest and most widespread the region has seen in two years, PG&E said

It could take as many as five days to restore power after the danger has passed because every inch of power line must be checked to make sure it isn't damaged or in danger of sparking a blaze, PG&E said.

To the south, Southern California Edison said more than 106,000 of its customers in parts of eight counties could face power cuts as early as Thursday as Santa Ana winds loomed.

Outages even posed a threat that fire hydrants wouldn't work at a time of extreme fire danger.

PG&E said it was informing customers by text and email about where and when the power would be cut. But its website, where it directed people to check whether their addresses would be affected, was not working most of the day Tuesday after being overloaded with visitors.

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Response to UpInArms (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2019, 11:48 AM

6. My friends in Oakland and in UC Berkeley are affected

In UC Berkeley they’re cancelling classes and shutting down all the buildings that rely on the transformers for electricity. High winds are expected which would be catastrophic if the transformers catch fire.

In Oakland they have prepared for various days without electricity. I’m glad I don’t live in the Bay Area anymore. It’s heartbreaking to see how climate change is affecting California.

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Response to UpInArms (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2019, 12:28 PM

7. PG&E got fined for starting fires last year... but rather than upgrade the system to prevent it..

they just shut off power to millions and are waiting for public uproar to warp the system in their favor. What is the $ penalty for not providing power to the area, it needs to be increased to higher than the fines & lost profits. (edited to correct a typing error)

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Response to UpInArms (Original post)

Wed Oct 9, 2019, 12:41 PM

8. Is there anything they can do to make this not necessary?

Obviously cutting back vegetation (why didn't they do this well before now?) is part of the solution, but are there technological solutions to make the infrastructure more resilient to high winds? Going underground in very high risk areas? Are they doing that?

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Response to Sapient Donkey (Reply #8)

Wed Oct 9, 2019, 01:01 PM

9. Rich corps do things for rich corps, not the people who pay the bills!

It's a truly awful dichotomy?

You have to be top management, on the board, or a stock holder to matter to corp. America?

Purposely cutting electricity, and for how long, feels ridiculously irresponsible, I'd be wicked pissed customer!



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Response to Sapient Donkey (Reply #8)

Wed Oct 9, 2019, 04:37 PM

10. Small local area power backup might be one of the best applications for wind and solar in the future

Which to use definitely depends on local weather especially during periods when power may be turned off such as the worst part of fire season.

Perhaps small towns should consider wind and solar in limited quantity so selected locations would have emergency power besides just generators. Simply having a central location where people could charge phones, lights and other emergency equipment could be very important in emergency conditions.

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