If you have power now, you’re not going to get it shut off. If you don’t have power now, you may be sitting in the dark for as long as five more days.
As many as two million people are without electricity as the planned PG&E blackouts have spread across California, but thankfully, that number will not increase further. The San Francisco Chronicle reports there will be no more PG&E shut-offs in the Bay Area, and according to KPIX, the ‘all clear’ was declared effective 2:45 p.m. Thursday for crews to stop shutting power off and start restoring lines.
The problem? “Restoring lines” could still take as long as until Tuesday.
Latest Update! Per @PGE4Me inspection crews in Alameda County have been cleared to begin power restoration inspections of PGE infrastructure. This means power not will turn on until inspections are complete. Continue to prepare for no power into night hours and beyond. #PSPS— Alameda County Sheriff (@ACSOSheriffs) October 10, 2019
At its peak, the outages affected 34 counties statewide, according to the Chronicle. PG&E initiated the outages intentionally, fearing that unusually high winds and dry conditions could lead to more drastic wildfires like California has seen the seen the last few years.
#PSPS - As soon as the weather passes, PG&E will begin safety inspections with 6,300 field personnel and 45 helicopters standing at the ready once we get the all clear https://t.co/PTQqAyEIVX pic.twitter.com/8pZo5mSRWY— PG&E (@PGE4Me) October 10, 2019
Now that the high winds have passed, the utility company needs to manually inspect 24,000 miles worth of distribution lines to make sure they’re operating safely. That’s already happened for some people, as KPIX says that 44,000 customers who lost power have had it restored, and as many 80,000 Humboldt County households and businesses are expected to get their electricity back soon.
“We faced a choice between hardship or safety, and we chose safety,” PG&E senior vice president of Electric Operations said in a statement. “We deeply apologize for the inconvenience and the hardship, but we stand by the decision because the safety of our customers and communities must come first.”
Whether PG&E has put customers and communities first is certainly a matter for debate.
PG&E’s stock has taken a beating over the outages, falling about 29 percent in just the last 24 hours, according to MarketWatch. But the real cost of these outages is not to Wall Street types, but to small businesses throughout the state who’ve lost perishable inventory, or several days worth of revenue. The Chron surveyed economists who pegged the business losses anywhere for $1 billion to $2.5 billion.
Image: Jeffrey Turner via Flickr