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Preparing for power outages

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Recently Don attended a meeting in a nearby town during which, among other things, a representative from the regional power company warned about power outages next summer.

Intentional power outages.

What the power company rep was referring to was preventative power shutdowns, famously practiced by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the power supplier for a large portion of California. After the devastating Dixie Fire in 2021, the blame for the fire was pinned on PG&E after some trees fell across power lines. PG&E has been blamed for earlier wildfires as well. As a result of all the fallout, litigation, and massive payouts, PG&E began practicing planned power outages in specific areas when conditions were ripe for another repeat of hazardous circumstances (i.e. high heat, strong winds, dry conditions). These planned outages can affect millions of people, sometimes for days on end.

Anyway, the local power company rep said they would be engaging in similar planned outages starting in the summer of 2024 when conditions are ripe for wildfires. Based on what happened with PG&E, I can’t really blame them.

But why next summer? Why not this summer?

Aside from political considerations, apparently planned shutdowns aren’t something that can be implemented without a proper notification system in place. Obviously there are people for whom a power outage can be life threatening, so the power company wants to make sure all customers are adequately notified in advance if those outages are deliberate.

However it means we must be ready for them.

We’re pretty much ready to handle winter power outages. Since we have a woodstove and our chest freezer is outside, winter outages never really bother us. We can crack open our chest freezer at night and close it during the day and everything stays frozen. We can empty the refrigerator into coolers outside and not have any food go bad.

But extended summer outages are potentially more troublesome. Our biggest vulnerabilities during summer power outages are water (since our well pump is electric, and we need more than we have stored to handle livestock and garden), refrigeration, and keeping the contents of the chest freezer frozen.

Well, these are issues we’re already addressing anyway. This just puts a fire under us to move quicker. Besides, with the increasing strain on the U.S. power grid in general, having more backups in place is, we feel, wise.

More projects to plan!


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    • SnakeEyes40

      “Planned power outages” are simply an excuse to tighten the screws on the peasants, and line the pockets of the power companies. It has NOTHING to do with safety or “preventative measures”

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