The Golden State chopped power to 27,000 Northern California customers on Saturday. Their electricity provider, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), pulled the plug, not because of downed lines or equipment failure, but simply due to dry, windy weather conditions.
This is a prime example of why many Americans are choosing off grid options. What is happening in California hearkens back to the days when the grid was in it’s infancy and the equipment was unreliable. It looks to be yet another example of how progressive political incompetence is dragging the state back to the middle ages.
No power, a return of diseases like typhoid fever, possibly even bubonic plague, dams in danger of collapse, what’s next? California citizens are increasingly wondering, “what century is this?”
As reported by Reuters, the shutoff was planned, or as they say in California, it was “proactive.” The reason they gave for putting vulnerable senior citizens and those with medical conditions at serious risk was “due to an increased risk of wildfires.”
#PSPS Alert: We will begin proactively turning off power in portions of several No. Bay communities (approx. 1,600 customers) approx. 6 AM Saturday (6/8) continuing at least thru Sat. afternoon. Includes part of Napa, Solano & Yolo counties. More info: https://t.co/6XIP4Efnts pic.twitter.com/K90JoTynql
— PG&E (@PGE4Me) June 8, 2019
Rather than sending out crews to insure that all of their equipment was sufficiently clear of surrounding brush, trees and debris, they casually flipped the switch.
In neighboring Arizona, with year round dry desert conditions and temperatures that frequently surpass 115 degrees in the summer, utility companies are fanatical about keeping power flowing to air conditioners and medical equipment. Power line caused brush fires are virtually non-existent because they “proactively” maintain their equipment.
According to one of the two major power providers, Arizona Public Service (APS):
“The APS Forestry and Special Programs Department conducts vegetation management on approximately 11,400 miles of distribution lines (lines carrying 4,000 to 21,000 volts) and over 6,000 miles of transmission lines (lines carrying 60,000 to 500,000 volts).”
“Vegetation management is necessary for safety, system reliability, access to facilities, regulatory compliance, security, and fire risk. Vegetation, if unmanaged, can cause electric service interruptions, can ignite wildfires, and become a safety risk to the public. It is the Forestry Department’s responsibility to maintain vegetation to reduce these risks to the public and to the utility resources.”
Things are a lot different in California. A statement issued by PG&E advises:
“This year [PG&E] would significantly expand the practice of shutting off power to communities at risk of wildfire when conditions demand it.”
They are doing this, Reuters notes, “despite objections from some consumer advocates who said such disruptions can harm vulnerable people such as those who need electricity for medical equipment.”
Utility spokesman Adam Pasion insists:
“PG&E has been in touch with people in the affected areas who rely on power for their medical equipment.”
“We certainly recognize the risk and are only doing this in the most extreme circumstances we feel that we need to.”
Why? The town of Paradise burned to the ground last November in the deadly “Camp” fire. More than 80 people lost their lives.
Now PG&E is seeking bankruptcy protection in the face of “billions of dollars in liabilities,” after “state investigators concluded that PG&E’s power lines caused the fire.”
Who is paying the price for all this incompetence? California’s voters. If the conservative ones use this to turn up the heat on their officials, more the liberal ones may rethink their positions in upcoming elections.