Millions in the state have power cut by PG&E
Classes were canceled. Frozen foods melted. Hospitals switched to emergency generators. Blooms withered in florists’ coolers. Unused food was jettisoned at shuttered restaurants. Lines formed at gas stations. Cellphones faded out. That’s what happened Wednesday when the state’s largest utility shut off power to millions of Californians in a desperate attempt to avoid the killer wildfires that have charred hundreds of thousands of acres, caused billions of dollars in damage and spurred cries for widespread change in how electricity is delivered over the state’s aging grid.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. began cutting power to customers shortly after midnight in counties around Sacramento. By the end of the day, the outages had radiated out to encompass 34 counties, with all but seven counties north of Merced at least partly in the dark.
PG&E blackouts to put
medical care facilities to test
Health care providers and officials around Northern California said that PG&E’s electrical grid shutdown, expected to trigger blackouts in 34 of 58 counties on Wednesday, will test on a grand scale whether residents and medical care facilities have done enough to planning for medical emergencies.
“Placer County is expected to be impacted by the public safety power shutoff event,” said Michael Romero, a program manager with that county’s Health & Human Services Department. “More than 50,000 meters, which could be up to 150,000 residents, could be impacted. Obviously, we’re very concerned with the impact.”
Romero urged residents to formulate a plan for to ensure their health needs would be met. That ranges from keeping food and water on hand to ensuring ensuring you know how to manually open your garage to ordering an additional oxygen tank for a loved one who’s dependent on the equipment, he said.
“Often, the plan is friends and family who aren’t in the impacted area,” Romero said. “Your best support system is the support system you have on a regular basis – friends and family. We encourage people to have that plan – that friend or family member – outside the impacted area that you might have to stay with a few days.”
Health care providers all around the state have been preparing for the worst-case warnings, that they and local residents may have to go without power for a week.