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

Those generator costs definitely look odd, but even ignoring them, I think there’s a legitimate point here.

I’m told that people who receive social security benefits for their disability only get a maximum of $900 a month, and they lose money if they somehow accumulate more than $1000-$2000 in savings. Bear in mind that people with such severe disabilities are much less likely to have jobs and much more likely to be living in poverty.

How do they afford even $500 for a generator?

The “community resource centres” are only open during daylight hours, by the way, and each one only has capacity for 100 people. There’s one centre per county.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the power company to make better provision than that for people whose lives may be on the line. After all, the power company are the ones who’ve failed to clear the trees and scrub away from their power lines in the first place.

The article only scratches the surface, by the way. There’s a lady on Twitter who’s been posting a lot of detail about the disability aspect of this (you’ll need to scroll down a bit):

Being prepared for every possible outcome is nice, but really, let's not be condescending d-bags that blame victims that aren't prepared for every possible outcome.

PGE is in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t position. It’s been in the news that they would be proactive in cutting off power so it shouldn’t have been a great surprised to anyone that this was happening. Fair or not people should have been more prepared for this. Just like preparing for a natural disaster (hahaha) people should be prepared for relatively short-term power outages.

As to PGE making better provisions for people (and I’m not entirely sure what that entails for everyone) perhaps that should fall more into the government’s arena? It’s a complicated subject though and I can see pros and cons on either side.

Unfortunately this likely won’t be the last outage of this type.

Maybe in Northern California.

I watch the news everyday, and I didn't hear that they were going to cut the power until just before they did.

It certainly wasn't enough warning around here, though our power has not yet been cut.

It’s strictly been a Northern and Central California thing so far but I think Southern California Edison is also considering it. Highly urbanized areas (like San Francisco) probably wouldn’t be affected since the concern is high winds and heat causing fires similar to what we had the last few years.

It's in Southern California as well.

SCE cut power to many communities not far from here.

And as far as I know, they gave very little notice.

If they end up cutting our power, we will get a generator, but even then, generators cannot be used when it's very windy.

(And that's exactly when they cut the power.)

Actually, their responsibility is to provide power for the citizenry en masse. Just like police are not obligated to protect individuals (court cases showed/proved that many times over), utilities are only obligated (in fact limited) to provide bulk power. Same for water, gas, etc. There are zero guarantees, either explicit or implicit. Anyone who ever lost cable for a week or two does not get a pro-rated refund for that time without service.

And clearing trees? The might not even be able to, not without permits, and even then, The County might claim sole power to trim trees and such. And considering how many miles of power-lines go over all sorts of territory (including private property), it’s unreasonable to expect the utility to have a landscaping service on retainer to clear trees and brush.

It was mentioned somewhere that even after all the hoo-ha is over, it’d take quite some time to inspect every bit of cable, in person and via helicopter, to make sure it’s all clear before powering it up. Now imagine how long it’d take to preemptively go and trim trees, sweep out brush (and put all the remnants… where?), and make sure everything’s “fireproof”?

Different topic… here in NYC, there are substations in and around the city that are fired up to provide supplemental power only when it’s most needed, eg, during a heatwave when everyone and his grandmother is cranking up the AC to “blitzkrieg”. No one wants them in Their Neighborhood, so of course they go and protest and sue and keep them shut down. OMGWTF, my kid might develop asthma from the noxious fumes coming from those substations! Keep them off!

And then when overloaded lines, transformers, everything, starts going >pop!< and some neighborhoods get brownouts and blackouts, they demand reparations! Pay me for all my food that went to waste! 2400bux for a fridge’s worth should cover it… (What were they keeping chilled, wild truffles?)

Sorry, but sometimes people are completely unreasonable. They want things to happen by magic, for free, and often in defiance of the laws of physics.

I just get sick to death of the whole entitlement mentality. Someone loses his cable connection, and then demands that the cableco deliver dvds to his door in the meantime so he doesn’t get bored.

And it isn’t “every possible outcome”. Eg: You’ve known for years if not decades your meds need to be kept chilled. You have this or that equipment that also needs electrical power 24/7. You know that no power means Bad News. Yet you do absolutely nothing but assume Someone™ will provide you with infinite uninterrupted power and bail you out.

You also have days if not weeks notice that there’s some serious fire-hazard brewing that killed a bunch of people just last year, and this time the powerco announces it’ll be cutting power to keep that from happening again. And omgomgomgomgomg, what am I going to do?

These are the same damnfools who clean out stores of milk/eggs/shovels/salt the day before the Mother Of All Blizzards is about to hit, and was alllllll over the news an entire week prior.

This isn’t about “preparing for every possible outcome”, this is about having enough common sense to prepare anything.

NO ONE was blindsided by any any any any any of this. When powerlines sparked wildfires, everyone was bitching that they didn’t cut power to prevent sparking and lighting up all that nice dry tinder. So now they did just that. And people are still bitching.

And it’s not like Californians never heard of scheduled rolling blackouts, either.

Did someone say they needed a $10,000 generator ? I’d buy a $400 sine wave inverter and a $9,500 used Lexus .
Does anyone think 10 grand will cover the pain and suffering of missing “The Bachelorette”

I got a $150 1800 watt inverter generator that can run any small fridge or freezer and an $80 800 watt model that can run small lighting or other aux devices. There’s absolutely no need for $10k to keep food and medicine cold. It doesn’t cost much to plan ahead, but failure to plan can cost plenty.

Yes it can sound like victim blaming, but when they use bad examples like that, it’s hard not to.


I agree that planning ahead is the best choice, and it is possible to talk about being prepared without victim blaming.

A lot of PG&E's problems are of its own making.

PG&E is a privately-owned, for-profit, regulated utility. For decades it has deferred maintenance in favor of paying dividends to investors. It should have used some of that cash to "harden" its infrastructure. That would have been expensive, but now it faces even higher costs for harm caused by its failures. In fact, it has been forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

In bankruptcy court, PG&E submitted a reorganization plan designed to "protect investor equity." This week the judge—against PG&E's objections—allowed lawyers representing bondholders to submit a competing reorganization plan that would favor creditors over equity holders. According to an article in Barron's, bondholders "now have a chance to wrest control of the company from its shareholders." PG&E stock promptly dropped 29%.


Ironically, PG&E's shutdown, which was intended to prevent fires, save lives, and protect property, may have been a factor in the death of at least one man. According to The Hill, "Fire officials from the El Dorado County town of Pollock Pine say the man, identified by Fox40 as 67-year-old Robert Mardis Sr., died approximately 12 minutes after PG&E cut power to his home on Wednesday."


All year long, PG&E has been sending warnings that planned outages would be a possibility during fire season. We were all warned about these hypothetical outages. On the day they became real, however, only about 24-hours' notice was given. PG&E gave even less notice about specific restoration plans. For many, it was hard to know just when power might come back on.

PG&E customers, including me, have to be better prepared. But so does PG&E. Sonoma County officials complained this week that they were better coordinated than PG&E itself during this week's shutdown. They have good reason to be. Sonoma County is where the city of Santa Rosa is located. That city was devastated two years ago by PG&E-triggered fires that killed as many as 22 people, incinerated 5643 structures, and cost over $1.2 billion (USD).



Using a slender container such as an empty spice container takes up less space, fill it HALF full with water (or Kool-aid, coffee, food coloring for color) then lay it on it’s side in the freezer, once frozen, stand it up where you can see it.
If you return from vacation and see the water on the bottom half of the container rather than vertical to it’s top, then you know that your freezer food is ruined although it still appears normal.

Thanks for that freezer idea, Brad, that’s clever.

Lightbringer, thank you for explaining how your utilities work over there (in this post). I hadn’t realised how different they are compared to here.

In Scotland, you can usually claim about $85 / day compensation if you lose electricity for more than 24 hours. It’s capped at 4 to 10 days worth under extreme circumstances. People who are elderly or disabled can register for priority assistance in the event of problems.

Gas, water and telecoms have similar regulations, although the amounts and criteria vary. In addition to that, if a utility makes an appointment requiring you to be at home, but they don’t show up, you get $35.

Summed over many people, it gives the utilities a serious incentive not to cut you off. Luckily, most of our cables and pipes are underground, and the heavy cross-country stuff is solid enough to harden against bad weather.

In addition to that, the utilities routinely clear power line routes of trees - they have to, or Scotland would never have any power in the winter, given all the storms we get.

If you’re a private landowner who refuses the power company access to clear trees, then you’re liable for the damage if one of your trees falls and brings down a power line. That’s seriously expensive. However, most power line routes are covenanted to require future landowners to grant access, so it’s not usually an issue.

On the other side of the coin, we pay a lot more for our utilities - our annual energy bill is about $1800 - and there’s always a tree somewhere that gets missed, so people lose service for a few hours.

We get there in the end - in my town, the last power cut was 3 hours last year, half an hour a couple of years before that, and a whole evening a couple of years before that. Rural areas get longer power cuts and more often, but rarely for more than 24 hours.

Tesla is going to sell a ton of its Powerwall battery storage systems to Bay Area solar panel owners. I had a 3kW array on my house before I moved from SF to London, and between the diminished feed-in tariffs and the general unreliability of PG&E, it’s almost a no-brainer now.

After I lost my Xfinity Internet and landline telephone service for one day earlier this month, I contacted Xfinity customer service, and requested an adjustment to my bill. They credited my account $10. My bill is typically around $130/month, so the ten bucks was roughly what I pay for two days of service. Xfinity has done similar things for me in the past, but only after I contacted it.

Gotta be a squeaky wheel.

Wait what?!


That is insanely expensive.

Glad I got the second Rockpals 300W power source ($114.95) before the Vipon coupon was stopped.

Spectrum is offering 400mbps for an extra $20/mo up from my current 100mbps $59/mo.
(luckily I don’t DL 4K 3D porn)

Well now you’ll be able to!