PG&E cut the power to about a million homes. There was a forecast of high wind, so they just pulled the plug. We are not personally affected by this because our electricity comes from SMUD. However, people who live very near us were definitely affected.
In some ways this bordered on hysterical. The horrific winds that caused this crisis were sometimes as high as 10 mph in these neighborhoods. However, the powerlines for the people who were in the high risk areas ran though these neighborhoods, so they lost power too.
It should be obvious that even PG&E which has a well-earned reputation for self-inflicted losses would not do something this drastic on their own. We have sources telling us that it was ISO and the PG&E Bankruptcy judge that were demanding this. We can also assume that there was a lot of pressure from the Governor’s office.
To make this worse, this didn’t actually solve the problem, because we still have a massive wild fire north of Los Angeles. It should be obvious to most people that not all wild-fires are caused by downed power lines. Wild fires in California are not exactly new. One of my first jobs in the insurance industry, decades ago, was as a California wild-fire underwriter. There have always been wild fires here, the only thing different is that now the places that burn have lots of buildings there.
Naturally, our esteemed and brilliant Governor is already working on solving the real problem: climate change. Here are the things we can do that will fix this for everyone. Let’s legalize marijuana. Let’s ban plastic straws. Let’s make it legal for people to poop on the sidewalk. Let’s develop a plan to require all electricity to be provided by renewable resources. That actually means solar and wind. We must avoid fossil fuels, at all cost, to save the planet. Don’t even consider building a power plant powered by natural gas. In fact, let’s ban new homes from getting connected to natural gas too. (This is already the law in some locations.)
We can’t build new dams. We can’t build nuclear power plants. We can’t use coal. We sure can’t use gas or oil. We can’t use natural gas. We can’t cut down dead trees. We can’t allow anyone to build roads in wilderness areas. If people want to drive cars, they must be electric cars recharged only be electricity generated by wind or solar.
This is beyond brilliant. Imagine you buy a new home in California. You pay about 50% more than the same house in most other states. Your property taxes are through the roof. You have sky high utility bills. You have among the highest personal income taxes in the country. There are homeless camps all along the bike paths. You are afraid to go there. Soon, they are replaced by nice new apartments, providing affordable housing, in your neighborhood, paid by you. By the way, this does nothing to solve the problem with the homeless camps, because other people, lured by the siren call of free housing, are moving here everyday.
But, the weather’s great and you love the environment, so you just suck it up and do your part to save the planet. You have solar, but the PG&E rules require you to have an automatic switch that will disconnect the solar power if there is a loss of power to the grid. You are required to hook into the grid, and pay a fee for not using it. You consider buying a backup generator, but you learn that this won’t work either, because you can’t have natural gas connected to your home. If you buy a gas powered generator, it doesn’t run either because the gas station doesn’t have power.
So you sit in your beautiful home, without electricity, without air conditioning, without TV, without fans and without lights. You can’t cook anything because natural gas has been banned and the electric stove doesn’t work. Even the microwave doesn’t work.
So, in desperation, you decide to get in your environmentally safe electric car and take a ride. But the car won’t run, because it is out of power. You can’t recharge it, because you don’t have electricity. You decide to drive your old gas guzzler, and risk the damage to the environment. But when you get to the gas station you can’t fill up because they don’t have power either. So, in total frustration, you drop by your favorite restaurant to at least get some cool air and a good meal. Oops, the restaurant is closed too and based on the note on the door, may never re-open.
Welcome to the left coast. Welcome to California. Welcome to paradise.