Biggest Planned Power Outage in History — Now Underway

“What did I tell you????”

We have written regularly and determinedly about being prepared for a power outage – planned or unplanned — as the most common “emergency” in the country.

Our goal is to keep an inconvenience from becoming an emergency. Or perhaps, keep an emergency from becoming a disaster.

Inconveniences, emergencies and disasters are happening right now in Northern California because of a massive planned power outage.

PG&E, the country’s largest utility, is deliberately shutting down power during an anticipated high wind event to avoid possible forest fires from downed lines.

So far, about 500,000 people have been affected.  Further planned outages may impact as many as 1 million households — 2 million people!

It’s the most extensive planned power outage ever employed.

Some examples of how residents are coping – and struggling.

  • Gas stations have long, long lines or are closed completely as people rush to fill their cars and buy fuel for generators.
  • Stores have sold out of generators, water and batteries.
  • Food stores without generators have packed some items into ice-filled containers or refrigerated trucks, trying to keep them cold for a few more hours. Other stores have already started disposing of ruined food.
  • Some retail operations show emergency lighting, but are closed because they can’t operate cash registers.
  • Traffic lights are blinking or out completely, creating dangerous intersections and traffic jams.
  • Cell phones are running out of battery. “Community Resource Centers” have been opened, and can  provide residents with bathrooms, bottled water and power recharging – but apparently only during daylight hours. (Find list of open centers here.)
  • People who need electric medical devices may be in real trouble unless they have made advance preparations for back-up or alternatives.

How long will the planned outage last?

Again, according to news reports, “Once the fire weather subsides, PG&E will inspect and test the grid both electronically and with on-site crews before restoring service. That could take up to five days.”

(Surely California can expect help from other states and/or utility companies, just as Florida and Georgia did during Hurricane Dorian.)

It’s not often that we experience a self-inflicted disaster.

PG&E Senior Vice President: “The safety of our customers and the communities we serve is our most important responsibility, which is why PG&E has decided to turn power off to customers during this widespread, severe wind event.”

As you can imagine, many citizens and citizen groups are outraged that the power line infrastructure has not been maintained to withstand high winds. Watch for more on this. In the meanwhile . . .

Check out these Emergency Plan Guide Resources.

Even if you aren’t in Northern California, an extended power outage could hit at any time. Please take simple steps to keep an outage from being a disaster for you and your household!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

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