PG&E Planning Widespread Power Outages in the San Francisco Bay Area

800,000 customers will have their power shut off today and/or tomorrow in an effort to avoid the sort of catastrophic fires that were caused by PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) power lines in each of the last two years. It's going to be windy for at least a day or two, so most of us can expect outages of about that length. Just to cover its backside, PG&E has announced that some could be without power for up to five days.

Initially, the plans were to close both of the major (1-mile long) tunnels in the bay area: the Caldecott Tunnel, connecting Berkeley/Oakland to Contra Costa County, and the Tom Lantos/Devil's Slide Tunnel on Hwy 1. Late reports say special efforts will be made to keep them open. Evidently, neither tunnel has enough emergency power to keep the lights on in an outage, so PG&E is going to have to route power to them.

I don't have a generator, so I'm planning to eat a lot of canned food if I have to keep the refrigerator door closed! Spent the last couple of hours topping off a bunch of batteries. Looks like I'm going to have oodles of light.

Anybody else making plans?

I live in San Francisco which luckily for me is unaffected by the power outages. I guess the fact that it’s mostly all concrete with few wooded areas other than Golden Gate park and the Presidio is the reason for that. It’s going to be a mess for folks if power is out for any lengthy period of time :frowning:

You might want to invest in a portable generator if not for these occurrences but in case there’s an earthquake or other disaster. I bought one several years ago for $500 and it powers my 2 refrigerators and freezer. It’s also quiet enough that nobody knows I’m running it when I have it in my inner fire escape stairwell (vented to the sky).

Time for more BLF Lanterns? :smiley:

Sho' 'nuff, you're in the "light," but you're one of the few.

Here's a link to the outage map.

It’s one of the advantages to living in a heavily built up city I guess :slight_smile:

Until the lights go out there as well.

Our power was cut Wednesday night and we expect to be out until tomorrow or beyond. This has happened many times before and for us it is not a big deal. We run a generator for an hour twice each day to keep the refrigerator and freezer cold & cell phones charged. Propane stove works fine. Fire in the fireplace if it gets cold. Life is good; just like grandpa’s days. Except we have lots of flashlights around the house. Solar lights too. Just wish the BLF LT1 was available, but we will have them for next time. Goethe wrote: Continue because you must. Hope you do not have any problems without power.

We’re in Napa and haven’t had any power issues yet. Went ahead and topped off batteries, gas tanks and filled up all the gas cans. Thought about getting a generator but the wife thought it was overkill but said we should keep an eye out for a sale price for future events. We have a gas stove so I can just connect a propane tank to that if needed.

You’re going to want to eat the stuff in the fridge first, before it spoils.

True…but I kind of doubt we’re at risk for outages due to brush fire concerns.

So true. Canned goods and other non-perishables should be last in the queue whenever possible.

Would a sine inverter run from your car help some of you save your fridge food?

How to Run a Refrigerator on an Inverter How to Run a Refrigerator on an Inverter

This article was an eye-opener:

People with life-threatening disabilities and medical conditions who need power to refrigerate medications or run equipment that keeps them alive were simply left to fend for themselves.

@brad, it would work, but try to find a way to charge the battery, and not discharge at all below 50%.

TLDR: Damn it PG&E.

TLDR2: We should all start diverting our flashlight money into our own DIY battery pack and solar setups.

Better to buy a generator in my opinion. Solar charging would be painfully slow in San Francisco and hard to quickly recharge large packs.

That’s why you go overkill.

Next year, I’m planning to put 1-3kW of solar panels during the summer.

Free AC forever!

Yeah, this is good advice. Before the lights went out, I prepared an extra meal from the stuff in the fridge. That gave the fridge time to cool down again before the plug was pulled. Didn't need anything else until the lights came on some 18 hours later. Although it was probably safe to eat, I tossed the small amount of perishables still in there.

Freezer was a different story. Don't want to toss that stuff, unless I have to. There's too much of it. 18 hours with the door shut was probably not a big deal, but I'll be checking when I'm ready to consume some of that stuff.

Next time, I'm going to punch a hole in the top of a two-gallon water dispenser, and Before the power quits, I'll move it into the fridge. Probably do two, and one or two more for the freezer.

If the food in the freezer is still hard to the touch it should be ok. I’ve read that food begins to spoil when the temps reach around 40F so if the freezer is below that I wouldn’t worry about it. If you have a thermometer in the freezer that will tell you what temp rose to when the power came back on. Or a thermal-gun if you have one. I’ve used mine before when our stupid contractors unplugged our freezer when they were working on the building.

Since you live in quake country have you considered getting a generator? I bought one from Costco for $500 and in my tests it will power my 2 refrigerators without any problems.

I’m at a loss as to the purpose of all these articles berating them, though. And I’m no fan of utilities and what they get away with, but still…

Prior years, similar conditions, they didn’t cut power, trees collapsed onto live power lines, sparked the tinder that was lying all around, and wildfires killed people and razed whole towns. Long stretches of dry weather, huge wind gusts… trees falling and knocking down wires will do that. And PG&E got absolutely crucified.

This time, they don’t want a repeat of all that, warn people in advance that they’ll be cutting power, putting out maps and schedules when and where it’ll happen, no one is caught by surprise, and they’re still getting beat up for it!?

Seems like a classic case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”.


PG&E set up community resource centers that had power, but for the medically fragile, getting to those places can be more dangerous than staying home. Fortelka and her family had to purchase a generator, which cost $10,000 – and costs $1,000 to $1,200 to run each day on diesel fuel.

Like, f’n wow! They set up places for those who need power, refrigeration, etc., and even that’s not enough??

And wait… 1200bux/day? Even at 4bux/gal for diesel, that’s 300gal per day?? That’s either the biggest load of horse$#|+ I’ve heard in ages, or she’s trying to supply power for an entire neighborhood. My gf spends that much on fuel-oil to heat her entire house all winter.

But y’know? I get it. For some people, life sucks. But Christamighty, what do people expect from PG&E? Someone to come over and power a generator by running in a huge hamster-wheel? Set them up with generators for free? Hey, what about buying them their special-needs food as well as buy them their medications, too?

And then they’d complain their rates are too high and deserve some kind of discount, too.

We had a blackout here for a day or so when a truck ran into a pole and obliterated a pole-pig that powered a few blocks’ worth of houses. That could happen ANY TIME. If I needed constant uninterrupted power to refrigerate my necessary life-saving medications, or special-needs food, or O2-concentrator, or iron lung, or whatever, I’d get my own f’n generator and battery-backup. I wouldn’t want to, like, die, y’know? But hey, that’s not my fault if I don’t. Noooo, I want the mean ol’ utility to buy me one instead.


I give up.

Internet trick for the freezer. Someone suggested to freeze a small plastic cup of water, then put a quarter on top of the ice and return to the freezer. Even if you are gone during the outage, when you return you can monitor the severity of melting by how far the quarter sunk in the ice. Is that cool or what! There is probably more detail on the net, but I have not checked it out yet.

Actually, I charge my phone with a small solar panel, or with a battery power bank chargeable by a/c or the solar panel, and by the generator…. whichever is convenient.

But for now, power is back on, three days later, so the Liion get charged again. It was fun having such good lights. But not all were good. My wife fried a cheap AA lantern by putting some batteries in backwards. She called to me, “Honey, is it normal for batteries to get so hot you cannot touch them?” LOL. They were alkalines. She doesn’t touch any of my lights.

These whiny people were obviously not Boy Scouts.

It’s like this;

If you need a power for your CPAP, have a plan B.
Not rocket science.
Now, I understand not everyone can have a generator if they live in a bird house (Condo highrise, etc.) However, they could have one of the many affordable battery backup inverters to buy some time and then some portable solar panels to help with batt recharge.

Say what you want about Preppers, but they are ready for pretty much anything, hence the word prepared :slight_smile:
And you don’t have go all out Waco, few gallons of water, extra meds, first aid kits, batteries and of course Many Flashlights!

At least I have that last part covered. And most of the rest.

The 142 guns some people seem to think they need don’t do you a whole lot of good when you are born with only 2 arms to operate them, so we’ll leave that part out.
Anyway, do like the Amish and just go with the flow man.