Treasure Island had a four-hour blackout Thursday, its eighth one of 2020. And now that we're all at the mercy of our modern-day niceties (Wifi, cable, etc.) this recent power outage only highlights the need to pursue a literal back-up plan for Treasure Island.
Treasure Island is many things — all at the very same time. A food desert atop an artificial island; a neighborhood rife with gentrification and housing insecurity; an area unserved by popular food app delivery companies; one place in the Bay Area most susceptible to rising sea levels. But for the past decade, one particular headache has made life on Treasure Island ever-less predictable: consistent power outages.
CA needs a lot more solar & storage. This is particularly true now, so people (who may be sheltering in place) can keep the lights on if we have blackouts this fall due to wildfires.— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) April 30, 2020
Yet it’s now gotten even harder to install these systems. This isn’t ok. https://t.co/eATXJ7z8pR
As reported by SF Weekly, the 576-acre SF Bay island was subjected to its eighth blackout of 2020 this past Thursday around midnight. Aside from the possible food spoilages and other misfortunes, two local restaurants, Mersea and Aracely Cafe, were vandalized and broken into during the power outage; "blackout break-ins'' are somewhat common in Treasure Island.
Theft or no theft, living without much faith in the utility infrastructure that surrounds you can, admittedly, make even the most level-headed cohort fairly "upset'' and "frustrated."
“People are frustrated, people are upset,” says Treasure Island resident Barklee Sanders to the news outlet. He and other residents on the island have actively lobbied for the installation of "back-up batteries" to help mitigate the neighborhood's frequent power outages.
Both the Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA) and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) oversee the island's electrical grid work, and this most recent blackout is perhaps the doing of an animal.
“People worry about their children having to go to school, people worry about their medical devices," he adds, making a nod to how it's even more vital than ever to have an up-to-date and stable infrastructure amid the pandemic. "Businesses are getting broken into. I just don’t get it. We have no power.”
The string of recent blackouts, too, comes during a time when much of the island is under renovation. The $6B development project, led by the City of San Francisco and a handful of private developers, is expected to bring, per SFGate, a "new, environmentally sustainable neighborhood with condos, a hotel, retail, and parks.” More than 20,000 residents could theoretically inhibit the 405-acre expanse within the next two decades — but nevermind the fact that hundreds on the island still sit well below the poverty line and are often at the mercy of slow housing aid.
And it’s a disenfranchised populous that’s also continually stripped of electricity.
“The government can’t force themselves to provide reliable electricity,” adds Sanders. “What will it take?”
Renovations and updates to the antiquated, unstable power grid are still ongoing and are scheduled to be completed by January 2021, by then hopefully mitigating these frequent blackouts.
But in the meantime: a temporary back-up battery system — like a solar-generated one recently installed in an East Bay community to buoy residents through planned PG&E outages — could offer some level of security and situational sanity.
Image: Jared Erondu