The PG&E website is working ineffectively and at a very slow crawl after Tuesday’s complete meltdown, as hundreds of thousands of customers get blacked out, or remain in the dark on whether they will lose power.
The PG&E power shutoffs are underway, and as of this morning, ABC 7 notes that at least 186,000 customers have lost their electricity in Marin, Napa, Sonoma and Solano counties — and the New York Times reports that a half million customers, which could amount to well over a million people, have lost power so far, in total. (Sacramento’s KCRA has a list of all California counties whose customers have lost power, or are scheduled to get it cut today.) It’s only going to hit the non-functioning fan even worse as the day goes on; Contra Costa County customers should expect their power to be cut at noon or earlier, according to the Contra County County Fire Department, while ABC 7 adds that Alameda and San Mateo County customers should also anticipate their power getting the hook at noon, too.
Update: PG&E has delayed the noon shutoffs for Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties until 8 p.m. tonight.
The Chronicle put the figure this morning at 141,000, noting that Sonoma has been the hardest hit, with 67,000 residences and businesses losing power.
PGE will provide generators for the Caldecott Tunnel so they will not have to shutdown during emergency power shutdown@nbcbayarea pic.twitter.com/PzncgLShQV— Cheryl Hurd (@hurd_hurd) October 9, 2019
There is one marginal bit of good news: the Caldecott Tunnel did not shut down, as had been expected, as Caltrans and PG&E crews worked through the night to install three generators and a backup per the Chronicle.
It seems that the impact of the shutoff on the Caldecott Tunnel — a vital artery between Alameda and Contra Costa counties — was not understood until late in this process, and PG&E and Caltrans held a joint press conference at the mouth of the tunnel Wednesday morning to address how they've handled the mess. When asked when PG&E understood that their shutoff was going to impact the tunnel, a spokesman for the utility said only, "It's a fluid situation," and said he'd have to check on the details about how this unfolded.
But, at least, the resulting traffic nightmare of a closed Caldecott Tunnel has been averted, at least for now.
Want to know if you're going to lose power? Above we see a current look at the PG&E website.
Will the PG&E power shut-offs affect you? Our interactive map shows zones in the Bay Area that PG&E has flagged for precautionary shut-offs. Enter your address to see if your house falls inside one of these zones: https://t.co/E970wZKV1E— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) October 9, 2019
You should use the Chronicle’s tool to determine whether your power will be shut off, because the PG&E website continues to be a goddamned disaster. SFist has seen it work and crash intermittently today. As of 10:15 a.m. it was working. As of 10:30, it was not.
This is the tech capital of the world starting to shut down because of climate change, neglected infrastructure, and leaving our power system in the hands of a profit-maximizing shareholder-owned utility. https://t.co/GIeaGMo8Ff— Brian EdwardsTiekert (@bedwardstiek) October 9, 2019
The shutoffs are of course related to possible wildfires, and there are indeed epically high winds and dry conditions. “By all metrics, this is forecast to be the strongest offshore wind event since October 2017,” PG&E senior meteorologist Evan Duffey told the Examiner at a Tuesday press briefing. That assessment is true, but also fails to take into account PG&E’s decades of neglect to aging infrastructure systems.
They say 800k customers but this translates into 2.5 million people. #poweroutage— Benjamin Franklin 🆘 (@benFranklin2018) October 9, 2019
We get histrionic about these hundreds of thousands of customers losing power, but these numbers are drastic undercounts. Counting a single PG&E “customer” ignores the fact that these are households, families, and residences with more than one person. The actual number of human beings without power is likely in the millions.
Governor Gavin Newsom, who was in Oakland for an event on Tuesday, as KPIX reports, railed against PG&E saying,"This is all about public safety and saving lives," but adding that the public should be "outraged" that it's come to this, and, "“We have an antiquated system at PG&E that needs to be upgraded.”
We’ll close with a reminder that PG&E’s CEO made $9 million last year, and we’ll continue to monitor this situation for updates.
Image: Presidio of Monterey via Flickr