Power Outage in 2019
This year, PG&E, the power company that is the sole provider for most of northern California, decided that it was important to cut power as a Public Safety Power Shutoff for 800,000 customers. “Predicted winds necessitated a gigantic black out to avoid fires,” they said. On Monday, they called with an automated message that it might happen and prepare for 24-48 hours.
Then, Tuesday, they sent everyone to a website that promptly stopped responding due to demand for information. As the shutoff moved from might to will happen, everyone tried preparing as be they could on a short timeframe. That night, at 3:15am, power shutoff at our house. We’re close to town and we’ve never had loss of power for more than a day. Schools closed. Businesses locked their doors.
In this event, our entire town lost power. The information about how long it would last became harder to understand as their website crashed and their social media retweeted graphics about how to prepare (which was way too late since power was already gone).
We documented our journey during the outage with a series of clips. How did we make it through the greatest blackout in Northern California history?
Of course, our trails and travails are nothing compared to consequences for folks depending on power for medical equipment. It was a hardship for me because I depend of routine to manage my neuropathy. The scrambles and challenges caused a flare of symptoms. Stress taxed my immune system so, no surprise, I’m sick with a head-cold now. And it was cold! Which made sleep difficult because my circulation can be slower than it should be in my feet. We didn’t have the means to go to a hotel or eat out. We made the best of it, but my hope is that this “solution” of shutting off massive power grids doesn’t become a solution long term. I hope this is a dramatic, illustrate chapter in a failure of corporate greed (they’ve been paying massive benefits to their shareholders and not updating or maintaining equipment).
And the kicker behind the whole thing? The winds that required such drastic action never arrived for large parts of the state. Why couldn’t they have waited until the winds actually arrived? Their explanations included that they couldn’t possible turn on parts of the grid without overwhelming other parts of the grid, even though restoration went waay slower and different parts of the grid came back online long before other sections. And two weeks ago, they shut down much smaller areas to respond to projected winds (that also didn’t arrive). And that we might see the foothills without power because the bay area had wind, and the bay area might lose power because the foothills had wind. So, even if we were frustrated about a lack of wind causing massive disruption, it could be windy somewhere else so “trust them”. Hmmmm….
I’m venting. It’s a complex situation. But expecting everyone to figure out plans for loss of service on short, short notice is not an acceptable exceptions.
Anyway, enjoy our adventures during the historic power outage :)