The power outage this past weekend was no fun for anyone. Millions of residents throughout the state were drenched in darkness off and on for weeks due to public safety power shutoffs, and it looks as though there are more shutoffs to come for many parts of the entire state
When I say this is no fun for anyone, I’m not just talking about the inconvenience of having to go about by candlelight, without television or a smartphone.
When I say this is no fun, I mean to say that this is a horror story. My friends throughout the state are horrified for the future. When the fifth largest economy in the world has to shut off power to millions of its residents, something is entirely wrong.
When people like my mother-in-law and me, who rely on almost daily breathing treatments to keep our lungs clear (which means electricity usage), it’s a nightmare come true when we didn’t plan a timely treatment and instead attempted to spend a little more time together to finish a movie — only to have the fear of a lack of preparation entirely engulf us. I couldn’t imagine the fear and panic if we had more serious medical complications.
It’s easy to go into all of the wrongdoings of PG&E, but quite simply this one has pushed many in California over the edge with frustration. The series of outages have been hard on the pocketbooks of many. Between re-filling fridges, expensive batteries, flashlights, back-up chargers, extra groceries, ice and prescriptions, many residents have emptied their wallets several times over in preparation or as a result of the outages.
Some have the privilege of being able to purchase or rent a generator. Yet, many of these residents have missed work, meaning a reduced paycheck.
Because of this, I would like to thank the Lassen Municipal Utility District for its part to make this fiasco a little bit easier to handle for Lassen County folks. I want to thank everyone who works at LMUD for being as prepared as they could to handle this as best as possible.
A couple of months ago, LMUD shared with the public that if they were able to obtain advanced knowledge of a power shutoff from PG&E, they would be able to island with Honey Lake Power in Wendel with little-to-no power interruption.
However, if PG&E were in a position where they could not give advanced knowledge, the public safety power shutoff would affect Lassen County residents, but only until a connection with HLP could be safely made.
Sure. I don’t agree with every decision made by the local utility. Just look at the disastrous and lingering decision surrounding the purchase of the useless Hayden Hill line. But they’re not providing me my electricity for a profit; they’re a public utility and thus answer to residents such as me. Also, my power costs 13.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, and would cost me at least three times as much if I lived anywhere else in the state.
When a San Bruno judge recently told PG&E it hadn’t done enough to prevent wildfires through tree trimming and other maintenance work, and instead pumped out $4.5 billion — that’s with a “b” y’all — in dividends to its shareholders while letting its tree budget wither, I feel utter gratitude for my circumstances. I cannot believe a corporation like PG&E is allowed to still exist.
I feel grateful that I don’t have to get my power from a CEO who wouldn’t even take a meeting with a person like me, let alone share the inner workings of its budget processes and board meetings. I have the option to protest, disagree and be heard.
Meanwhile, many of my friends and colleagues across the state are still without power, escaping fires, finding shelter or trying to ease the fears of their children as they drive straight through the flames. Even as I write this and as you read it, these things are still happening. There is panic everywhere.
These events are the fault of PG&E. The utility remains on probation for a 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight people and leveled a neighborhood. State fire investigators also blamed PG&E for 18 of the more than 170 wildfires that swept northern California in October 2017.
PG&E has acknowledged its equipment likely started the 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County that destroyed nearly 14,000 homes in the town of Paradise, killing 85 people.