Utility Cuts Power to Prevent Wildfires and Keep Residents Safe—Governor Newsom
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, California’s largest
electric utility, shut off power to over 520,000 customers in response to red
flag warnings issued with the high winds and warm, arid conditions. The first phase
began early Wednesday morning with a second phase scheduled for about noon on
Wednesday which could impact another 235,000 customers. The
largest planned blackout in California history comes as the utility works
to mitigate the risk of fires caused by distribution lines and equipment. PG&E
expects the outage to impact thirty-four counties.
The Camp Fire in November 2018 took 85 lives, destroyed
14,000 homes, and ravaged 150,000 acres of land. Pacific Gas and Electric equipment
failure caused the wildfire and took the blame for other fires in 2017 and
2018. Lawsuits and damage claims caused the company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
in January 2019.
Travis LaVallie at Norwall PowerSystems said that until PG&E
updates its distribution equipment, the utility’s customers would continue to
experience blackouts. Norwall (www.norwall.com)
is an online retailer of standby generator
systems for homes and businesses.
Standby generators feature automatic operation during a
power outage. A permanent connection to the home or business electrical system
through an automatic transfer switch guarantees safe operation. They run on
propane or natural gas through outages lasting days or even weeks.
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- Nationwide Best Selling Generator Generac 22kW with 200A-ATS
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California governor Gavin Newsom defended the PG&E’s
decision to cut power for the third time in two months. “The reality is that we
want to protect people. We want to make sure people are safe. This is what
PG&E thinks is in the best interest of their customers and ultimately for
this region and the state.”
Some customers rely on portable
generator power during an outage. Portables don’t produce as much power, don’t
work automatically, and require setup and connection and frequent refueling.
The best connection option is a manual transfer switch with a plug and cord
that connect directly to the generator. Safety is a concern and residents must
follow specific portable
generator safety rules and warnings by the manufacturer.
Future blackouts are likely to occur as PG&E considers various solutions to fix and upgrade its aging distribution grid. Upgrades are expensive and fixes often put off the real solution until a future failure. Differing political, economic, and ecological factions, each with their own agenda, further complicate the issue. Until PG&E digs deep and finds a way to satisfy everyone, customers use generators to keep the lights on and the refrigerators cold.