PG&E is choosing to create what could be among the worst power outages in US history. This is not an outage where the weather directly caused the outage. It was not a hurricane that broke power lines. The winds had gusts up to 45 mph in some areas but most of the areas did not have high winds. Most areas had gusts up to about 15 mph.
According to Electric Choice, the worst power outage in US history was the northeast blackout of 1965. This caused power loss for 30 million people for 13 hours. PGE chose to turn off power to 2 million people and this has already lasted for 2 days for many and could last for 5-6 days. A 6-day outage for 2 million people would be at the level of a 13 hour 30 million person power outage. PGE has indicated that they will take days to inspect the power lines and equipment before restoring power. This could also be one of the first of many optional power outages. The forecast is there will be high fire risk in October and November and significant risk could last until the end of January 2020.
PG&E is forcing billions of dollars in costs onto customers. PG&E is afraid of how dangerous they have left the electrical grid and lands that they are required to maintain.
PG&E customers will not get a shock because many have no electricity. PG&E customers just experience a shocking level of PG&E incompetence.
PG&E had $400 million per quarter of profits in 2017. They did not spend that money then to maintain their equipment or the land for which they are responsible.
The California government is allowing PG&E to shift costs onto people and businesses in California. PGE has experienced $30 billion in liability for fires over the last four years.
In January, PG&E filed for bankruptcy. In May, California investigators found PG&E power lines were responsible for the 2018 Camp Fire that fire virtually wiped out the town of Paradise, killing 86 people. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, said that after a “very meticulous and thorough investigation,” it had determined that the Camp Fire was caused by “electrical transmission lines owned and operated” by PGE. PGE said in February that its equipment had probably caused the fire.
PG&E’s reorganization plan calls for a $20.4 billion fund that would allocate $12 billion for insurance claim holders and public entities that have settled with the utility, plus $8.4 billion for wildfire victims. The offer has been rejected by lawyers representing a committee of fire victims, who say the amount is insufficient to cover tens of thousands of claims from victims of fires sparked by PG&E equipment since 2015.
PG&E could be broken up. In September, San Francisco city officials offered $2.5 billion to take over the company’s local power generation equipment. PG&E is against “municipalization”.
California had $20 billion in an annual budget surplus. California did not spend enough money on creating controlled burns to thin out the needed fire breaks.
PGE and the California government have not maintained and managed the forest and vegetation areas. It has been known for a hundred years that wide fire breaks are needed to stop fires from getting too large. This is the third year of recent major fire-related problems. The necessary steps to address this are nowhere near complete.
Nice business you here. Shame if something happened to it.
Nearly 1.5 million signatures are needed to get a recall of California Governor Gavin Newsom onto the 2020 ballot. This is about the number of voters who lost electrical power because of PGE. The only California Governor to get recalled was Gray Davis. The issue that caused the recall was power outages.
Insanely long outage
In the USA, the average duration of sustained electrical interruptions in 2006 was 106 minutes. In 2013-2015 in California, the average duration of sustained electrical interruptions was 148 minutes. PG&E is causing a sustained electrical outage 2880 minutes (2 full days) to 8640 minutes (6 days). This will be about 20 to 80 times longer than the average sustained electrical outage.
Various metrics for power outages:
CAIDI gives the average outage duration that any given customer would experience.
Duration of Sustained Interruptions, SAIDI
PG&E is giving customers (residential, commercial and industrial) across 28% of the San Francisco Bay Area 2 to 6-day electrical outages.
The calculator of the cost has a limit of 960 minutes for average outage duration. There seems to be the need to have a frequency of three to nine outages of 960-minute duration to calculate the cost of the on-purpose outage that PGE is forcing onto its customers.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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