PG&E to cut power to more than 1 million Californians

October 25, 2020

pg&e

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

PG&E may shut off power on Sunday for 1 million or more individuals across Central and Northern California as part of another preemptive move to prevent wildfires.

The shutoff is forecasted to impact 466,000 homes and businesses, or more than 1 million people. The planned outage is expected to impact 38 counties, including Monterey and Kern counties. San Luis Obispo County is not on the list of counties where the outage is expected to occur.

Company officials are citing dry conditions and high winds as reason to cut power to homes and businesses. PG&E says the conditions pose an increased risk of damage to the electric system that has the potential to ignite fires in areas with dry vegetation.

The outage is expected to begin early Sunday and possibly last until Tuesday.

PG&E Interim President Michael Lewis said the outage could be the largest Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) this year.

“Initial forecasts indicate this could be our largest PSPS event this year so far,” Lewis said. “Our highest priority is to keep customers and communities safe and execute this event according to our plan and to then quickly restore power to all affected customers when it is safe to do so.”

PG&E, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July, has been found responsible for multiple wildfires that occurred in California in recent years, including the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive blaze in state history. The utility has since adopted a habit of shutting off power at times of high wildfire risk.


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kayaknut

By all means Gov Newsom force us to into using only electric vehicles so that those in these shut off areas may not be able to escape if an emergency happens. How about solving one problem before creating another governor?


ByteMaker

This is just PG&E giving the big middle finger to California!


nunsense

yeah because California has given PG&E the finger when lines fall down and start fires to the tune of billions of OUR dollars.


sbjcl

I was just at a local shopping center that has a row of about 10 EV charging stations. Where does that power come from, to think renewable energy is going replace existing energy sources is pure folly. Renewable at best is a supplemental source. The U.S, is one of the least polluting countries in the world. Look to pressure India, China, and all the third world countries to start dealing with the pollution they are spewing and we might make some progress on climate change.


Francesca Bolognini

I got into a discussion with several other locals on a neighborly app the content of which referred to the generation of power. I suggested that for what it would likely cost to put power lines underground, we could possibly have solar placed on the individual homes and businesses to eliminate the problem completely, or at least generate power more locally from cleaner sources. I also suggested we eliminate fracking and other high polluting methods of generation wherever possible, to preserve what was left of our environmental stability. One opponent of this idea replied “Get ready for rolling blackouts!!!!!” I laughed and replied “What do you think we have now?”


We need to start to live for a future, which clearly does not include more fossil fuel dependence or untenable nuclear waste or even methane producing natural gas (as much as I prefer to cook with it) so, why put that off as if we had unlimited time to prevent environmental collapse? There are actually more jobs to be had in the shift and certainly we cannot continue to absorb the exponentially mounting costs of ignoring the changes in climate.


I know there are a lot of “right wing” commenters on this site who are conditioned to vote down any whiff of environmental concern. I once found this confusing, since in my youth, “conservatives” were also often conservationists. They were actively interested in conserving things. Like our environment. Like our National Parks. Like the Clean Air and Water Acts, authored by my cousin, Leon G. Billings and put into law during the Nixon administration. I admired those people, who exhibited a bipartisan interest in our wellbeing as a country.


Today, I see a mostly highly partisan attitude of “if the libtards want it, we don’t”, no matter what the issue. I am not a Democrat, so save the prearranged insults. I see the current “conservatives” not conserving much at all, but acquiescing constantly to whatever corporations or billionaires want, no matter what. So, if major corporations, exerting undue influence on our governments with their unlimited access to our money want something, all they have to do is buy a politician who will see to it they get whatever that is. And there is a prearranged group of people who will insist it is what they want, without thinking twice whether it will be a benefit to our country and our people or not.


In the last 4 years, we have lost around 97 key environmental protections, including those passed during Republican administrations, that were essential to clean air and water and the protection of life and health. Please think about this when you exercise your right to VOTE.


nunsense

you have valid points about energy generation. I believe I heard the cost of burying lines was about 1 million per mile, so yes, solar could be put on many houses for that cost – however you’d also have to install storage. Are we going to pay for the upkeep as well? Look around, how many of your neighbors will keep up with the upkeep and maintenance of their equipment? Also, batteries are not as “clean” as one would think. Can’t just throw one in the trash can we?

Also, are we willing to cover, say the area of Montana de Oro with solar panels to replace the 2400 MWe of Diablo, because that’s about what it would be. Or add to the bird kill by tens of thousands to place windmills? Can you imagine the outcry when eagles and condors are found killed by those (IMO) eyesores?


LeroyMoo

There have been no rolling blackouts in SLO or Santa Barbara counties since the 2017-2018 fires or since PSPS became a thing. The only thing that has come close here was the Feb 2017 rains where a couple thousand folks were out for two days due to fallen trees. And, the freak 2014 lightning storm in the north county where 700 pole top transformers took hits.

Solar is generation. Underground is conductor. They do not relate or replace each other, ever. Even if you have solar on every roof the power lines still must be the same size and capacity for the resultant load if the solar goes away.

Because of clouds, fog, darkness or if solar trips off-line then you need power imported without sacrificing your loads correct? Or are you Ok with being without juice for random periods?

Underground is 10x to 20x more expensive to construct than overhead lines. Underground line outages are 6 times longer than overhead line outages. I could go on and on with the different pitfalls of underground, but be aware underground always transitions from overhead wire to underground cable at a pot-head riser at different points in a 4, 12 or 21kv distribution circuit as different vintages of housing tracts and commercial areas are built.

Washington and Oregon hydro electric contracts prices have increased 400% since 2016 (see MBCP powerpoint) due to 21 CCA’s competing with each other and PG&E. Once Washington and Oregon redirect their hydro sales back to their own states in the coming years to meet their own carbon goals CA is screwed without more natural gas peakers or nukes. The batteries that are planned for transmission systems require massive inverters which will require maintenance outages and curtailments. Additionally, Static Var Compensators (or older type capacitor banks and shunt reactors/huge toasters) to boost and buck voltage as large rotating mass generators are retired, which adds to infrastructure costs. CA politicians have morphed environmental goals into a CO2 fear mongering campaign to control people’s thinking and to profit their renewable’s cronies at the detriment of the entire CA electric system’s reliability.


mullyman

Newsom wants to go to all electric vehicles and we can’t even keep power on know. As all big monopolies PGE is interested in the profits at minimal costs and if things go south they just request a rate increase to cover their mistakes. Look at your bills and what has PGE improved to warrant the outragious charges.


LeroyMoo

PG&E makes money primarily on CPUC authorized rate of return on capital investments and depreciation. If PG&E can’t build new infrastructure or improve capacity on existing lines, they are stuck losing money by paying all repairs from the smaller expense budget. In order to get any electric bill penalty tier income from the usage above baseline PG&E must beat performance metrics and compete for the penalty bucket with other utilities yearly in CPUC filings and hearings. Rates cases proposed 2-3 years in advance go before the CPUC to rebuild or upgrade lines which are graded by priority, approved or denied from being funded from the rate case by the CPUC. Even in the case of the the Camp Fire with the 105 year old Caribou-Palermo 115kV line, the upgrade was denied by the CPUC previous to the fires. Now, this denial wasn’t the cause of the Camp Fire, but it was definitely a missed opportunity for the CPUC to allow upgrading this line and replacing towers and C-hooks with funding from the rate case. Now this line is not used and is idle.

Diablo 500kV power is transmitted 81 miles to the valley and then transformed from 500 down to 230kV and travels back 80 miles to be distributed to Templeton and Morro Bay. You only need 700MWs of solar panels in Montana de Oro (unless batteries are installed locally) and the rest of the 1500MWs to replace Diablo would be located on the I-5 corridor.