The point is well expressed and well taken: any measure is worthwhile if a wildfire is prevented.
We just think it’s important to keep pushing Pacific Gas and Electric to upgrade their power system to the point where power shutoffs do not need to be the first and most-often-used line of defense against additional liability claims when the weather is touchy.
Red flag warnings issued by the National Weather Service seem like a decent marker for when the utility should consider a shutoff.
But we’re still not sure that the conditions that warrant a red flag warning should normally be used as a cue to shut off any portion of the grid to prevent a wildfire ... at least in the long term.
We’d rather know that the PG&E system is substantial and maintained to the point that it could easily withstand red flag weather without fear of fire.
That’s quite obviously not been so the past few years, with PG&E equipment being found liable for a number of wildfires, including Yuba County’s Cascade Fire in 2017 and last November’s fire that destroyed the city of Paradise.
Long-term, the company shouldn’t want to continue using shutoffs.
Power was shut off to thousands of customers in Yuba, Nevada and Butte counties Monday.
Early Tuesday morning the company had crews out – personnel, trucks, helicopters – inspecting all the impacted lines before turning those sections of the grid back on. They cited red flag warnings for the areas involved as the reason for the shutoffs.
After turning the power back on Tuesday, the company turned around and had another shutoff in place around 3 a.m. Wednesday.
By later in the day they had crews out checking lines, once again, in preparation to turn power back on.
It must cost PG&E a pretty penny to mobilize those inspection teams ... helicopters don’t come cheap.
And a shutoff is anything but convenient for customers. For one thing, losing your power in the foothills can mean losing communication with the outside. And it means your refrigerated and frozen food is at risk. Your water pumps won’t work. Your medical gear, such as oxygen pumps, won’t work unless you have generator backup. Safety devices such as lighted intersections might fail.
And a shutoff poses its own dangers: people are prone to want to cook food outside on grills; and generators use some sort of volatile fuel ... put a lot of barbecues and a lot of generator engines in gear and there’s potential for problems.
Nobody wants PG&E to have to turn off the power.
Yes, it’s better than burning another community down. But it can’t be the long-term solution, from either angle.
Our apologies for the system snafu that brought you sports data in the news section ....
Seems like the common thing is to blame snafus on computer systems.
Well ... the truth is, it’s most usually us commanding the system to do something the wrong way.
So it was Saturday night with the system that prints our newspaper pages from computer to aluminum plates for the press crew to use to print the paper.
Something was typed that seems to have greatly offended our obviously overly-sensitive system (hopefully, it’s not paying attention to this script). Pages are supposed to be all sent to the plate room by 11:30 p.m. and we sometimes fudge that to midnight during football season.
But this past week, time marched on ... by 3 a.m. we finally figured out a way to get the machinery moving, but it meant that plates were all out of sync ... Sports info on page B2 was in the A2 position, and vice versa.
Color pages were printed partly on pages, partly on other pages.
We got all the news and advertising in – in some manner. But we deeply apologize for the mess.