Pacific Gas and Electric Co. started using a new strategy last weekend, as the area was blanketed in fire-friendly weather – high winds and low humidity over a bountiful crop of spring rain-fed grass. The company shut off power to parts of the grid it judged to be most susceptible to fire.
Some Yuba County residents had power shut off late Saturday and through much of Sunday.
We asked, “What do you think of the strategy? Is it a practical way of minimizing fire risk? What could make it work better? Your thoughts, please.”
– Kimberly Contreras: There are no easy answers. When Mother Nature is out of control and causes damage to PG&E equipment and they are treated like criminals PG&E has no other choice at this point. Wet winters, dry summers and high winds are a disaster waiting to happen.
– Daniel Powell: I think that where wind is a concern they should put the lines underground or in heavy conduit on the ground. I realize that there are places where this is impossible but those places, as far as I know of, are not where the fires started last year. Instead of paying to have brush and trees cleared for their lines they should be re-configuring them along the way and eliminate as much exposure as possible.
– Scott Flaherty: So you buy a gas-powered generator because that is safer? PG&E is trying to cover their butts.
– Robert Walsh: Essentially, people are being held hostage by a monopoly. This is very typical behavior for a monopoly. The public has no alternatives other than expensive fixes (generators, solar/battery setup) so the monopoly (PG&E in this case, but there are plenty of others) punishes its customers for its own mistakes. ... The market works! Lets allow competition in the energy provider sector!
– Cara Barber: I think if the winds had been blowing as strongly as they had been all day, then, yes, turning the power off is warranted. However, I found it rather inconvenient that the power was shut off when the threat had passed. The wind had died down to almost nothing and a few hours later the winds had stopped completely. So I think it was a horse and pony show. No one was “monitoring” the conditions because if that were truly the case, the power would have been shut down sooner when there was a much higher threat of fire.
– Rosemary Daggett Blevins: High winds all night in Dobbins, Calif.
– Ray Rogers: It’s unfortunate that they have to disable areas that are not in the danger zone. The cost of replacing food is better than losing everything. ... it’s just another way for them to not address the real issues!
– Sheryl Palmer Bailey: PG&E is attempting to reduce their liability for their equipment causing a fire and the ensuing lawsuits. Very few of the major fires were caused by PG&E but since the Camp Fire was their fault, they now are going to extremes. Unfortunate. The real responsibility should lie on any homeowner or renter who chooses to live in a high risk wild land fire area. Insurance premiums should be raised for people who choose to live in high risk areas for wild fires, flooding and landslides.
– Steve Russell: It’s a false sense of security to think by shutting off the power PG&E reduces wildfire risk. They don’t reduce risk; they only reduce their liability. When you have hundreds of people that will now be connecting generators to the grid you’re going to have reverse energizing of the power lines and when they blow down they’re still going to be fires. That’s not to mention the people who have improper wiring, improper clearances or ventilation, incidents with gasoline, and those of us who are left helpless to fight very small fires at their start with hoses are now disabled from doing that. We won’t see any less fires we’ll just have PG&E protecting themselves rather than dealing with their long-term maintenance issues and brush clearances. There’s nothing new or unusual about high summer heat, wind events, and fire danger.
– Carissa Nichole Bonham: ... It’s not even about discomfort. Its about people who rely on the electricity for medical reasons.
– Jamie Garis: Shut it off, get over it. If it saves one life it’s worth our discomfort!
– Josh Nelson: Seems like us customers are being punished for PG&E’s failure to maintain their equipment, rate hikes and shutoffs.... PG&E should have put it all underground decades ago.