PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

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By TwoScoops

PG&E announced it is now drafting guidelines for shutting off power during high fire danger or high winds.

Matt Nauman said, "Any temporary shut-offs would likely happen during California's summer and fall fire season, and would be done in coordination with officials and with public notice... Turning off electric power lines can have an immediate and broad impact on public safety."

"At the same time, we recognize that there may be situations in which proactively turning off electric power lines is warranted," Nauman said. 

State utility regulators held at least one public hearing earlier this year studying the usefulness of shutting power to select areas during times of high winds and parched brush and grass.

What do edhat readers think of So Cal Edison possibly doing this?

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a-1561565081 Mar 26, 2018 02:13 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

The Independent says Thomas Fire was a two-headed monster: https://www.independent.com/news/2017/dec/22/thomas-fire-had-two-origins/ ." Also under investigation is a second fire that broke out in Upper Ojai, about four miles away, at the top of Koenigstein Road, about half an hour later on that fateful night. Cal Fire spokesperson Steve Kaufman confirmed that the Thomas Fire had two origins but could not discuss details regarding locations or causes of the fire pending an investigation. Residents on Koenigstein Road believe a transformer near a home at the top of the roadway exploded around 7 pm….Taylor’s children said they heard an electrical buzzing sound outside that made them look out the window. “I heard this buzzing ‘zzzzzz’ sound, kind of like what you might hear in a movie about a mad scientist,” said Cole Everett, age 12. “The sound was dragged out and pretty loud. Then I saw a huge flash of light at the pole, and heard a boom, and saw a sprinkling of sparks falling to the ground.”

a-1561565081 Mar 25, 2018 05:23 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

Will Edison give bonuses this year? Edison's failed equipment. Massive home losses. Massive expenses in SBC and VC for fighting largest fire in California, paid by taxpayers. PTSD. Fearful children. Loss of life. Edison has changed us, as people. Edison needs to do much better. We need to know what they plan to do to make their service worth what we pay them.

a-1561565081 Mar 25, 2018 03:00 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

All traffic lights off, evacuation ordered (but not heard because power was off). Evacuation thwarted because of power off, catastrophic for we humans who paid our Edison bills regularly and on time. It's Edison's end of things that aren't working. Stop the bonuses, Edison. Don't put your problems on our shoulders. If Edison power lines were the start of the Thomas fire, two dead during start (a firefighter and a woman killed trying to evacuate), 23 dead in Montecito...direct line of responsibility. 25 deaths.

Flicka Mar 24, 2018 07:29 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

My aunt lived on the Riviera and when utilities went underground they charged her $17,000. Power out would mean the fridge would be off and food wasted.

Channelfog Mar 24, 2018 03:24 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

As Davis pointed out, high voltage/high current buried transmission lines would in fact have a heat problem. The suspended lines are cooled by the surrounding air and that heat would build up if the lines were buried. Flooding is less of an issue unless the soil around the lines is eroded causing physical damage to the lines. There are high power underwater transmission lines. (which are kept cool by the surrounding water)

SBZZ Mar 24, 2018 01:45 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

I believe San Diego Gas & Electric already does this. I wonder what that experience is like? Would they just shut down the most impacted lines, which would enable the redundancy in the system to still provide power to most of the users? It sounds like an easy solution, but your comments bring up valid and worrisome side-effects.

a-1561565081 Mar 24, 2018 01:14 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

From the article, "PG&E also will talk with communities to determine where it makes sense to bury power lines underground rather than run them above ground on poles, Nauman said, another change called for by some officials in areas hit by fires. Even buried lines are vulnerable to weather, quakes, flooding, and unwitting damage from heavy equipment, PG&E officials say. The utility also plans to make its electrical system more resilient against high winds and fire, including replacing some wooden poles with steel."

paglinsb Mar 24, 2018 07:20 AM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

I think PG&E is glad for this dialogue as it reveals the flaws in such a plan, and helps people see the overall picture of the limitations they face. Now, does that mean they are not responsible for reasonable maintenance of structures and their environs? No.

CoastWatch Mar 23, 2018 05:42 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

A percentage of EVERY utility bill you pay is SUPPOSED to go towards updating the utility companies infrastructure... Instead it goes to paying Mgmt Million$ in bonus' each year and to shareholders... Meanwhile, keep paying up suckers and live with the fact that we live in a fast becoming 3rd World Country.

d8vanilla Mar 23, 2018 05:17 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

No power, my security cameras will not work, can't charge my cell (I do have a portable charger), computer won't work, won't be able to see to get outta my house, garage door won't open or close, food in frig will go bad, freezer won't keep things frozen, all the timers will have to be reset.... etc.

a-1561565081 Mar 23, 2018 04:17 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

Would it help to put utility lines underground? That was done on S.B. Mesa. What might ranchers w/Thomas Fire lawsuit look for in a lawsuit for remediation (besides dollars). If a judge would order a fix, then maybe "some" meaningful fix should be started before the suit is in court. Turning off our power is NOT the remediation with which we could ever agree.

Factotum Mar 24, 2018 04:13 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

Neighborhoods can establish special utility districts and pay for under-grounding their utilities over time. $10,000 is not a barrier for some neighborhoods, considering the increase in property value that comes with underground utilities. Ongoing tree maintenance around overhead wires is expensive too.

Channelfog Mar 24, 2018 01:01 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

The largest long distance transmission lines are on the order of 1/2 million-1 million volts. The cost of burying such cables is astronomical. It would surpass $10,000 per household by orders of magnitude. This will never happen. Decentralized power production would reduce the need for high tension power lines, as well as the power losses inherent in such long distance power transmission. Photo voltaic roof panels are one example of decentralized energy. Reducing demand is also a strategy. The Roman architect Vetruvius, wrote about proper solar orientation and passive solar design in ca 60AD, and yet we still build buildings with complete disregard for these concepts, thereby requiring large amounts of energy for climate control and lighting. Our civilization has reached great heights...of ignorance.

oceandrew Mar 23, 2018 05:02 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

Have you looked into the cost of burying utilities? It ain't cheap and the further it has to go the more expensive it gets. To bury utilities in a typical neighbourhood with homes on 1/4 acre plots or so you can expect homeowners to be on the hook for $10,000 per household!! And everyone in the neighbourhood has to sign on.

Channelfog Mar 23, 2018 03:24 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

One has to wonder whether the current law suit against SCE by ranchers, over the Thomas fire, is the cause for this course of action by the utility to the North. For the sake of customer/ratepayers I sure hope this lawsuit goes nowhere. All of our critical infrastructure is vulnerable, dangerous and necessary, all at the same time.

oceandrew Mar 23, 2018 02:30 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

Well you can't have it both ways, that is depend on electric utilities to keep you juiced and running but sue the pants off them if the weather turns nasty and breaks the equipment that delivers the power. Everything breaks... especially in unforeseen conditions, or conditions the equipment wasn't designed for. Even in Tornado Alley they haven't figured out how to weather proof the electric grid in spite of the experience with it.

CivilEngineer Mar 23, 2018 01:25 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

Keep your cell phones charged as that will be your lifeline to the world, unless the cell towers also go down. Or better sign that solar panel deal if you own your home. Or keep your plug-in car charged up. See also that story about how there are fewer generating stations these days so transmission lines are our lifelines now.

Potif Mar 23, 2018 11:20 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

PS: I do have a cell phone, too... Originally got it since there are virtually no pay phones anywhere I go, and I often need to call for a ride when I'm 'out and abou'. I try to keep it at least close to fully charged as I can. It has been very handy!

Potif Mar 23, 2018 11:00 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

That is why I plan to keep a landline, with a corded phone, as long as they are available. They will usually still work if the power is out, as long as the phone lines are all still up, and connected to the telephone grid. Example... I was in the Norhtridge earthquake, and the phone still worked even though the power was off, as the lines were still connected, and I was able to let my parents and friends know that I was okay.

Potif Mar 23, 2018 11:06 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

The cause of the Thomas Fire is still listed as 'Unknown origin' and is still under investigation from what I can find. The guys that investigate fires are usually pretty good at figuring those things out. It can take time, and often, they don't release the information as soon as they know, since there could be the possibility of human involvement, and they don't want anyone who may be involved to know they could be under investigation.

oops Mar 23, 2018 01:11 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

Dominoes are falling due to the potential liability. Next thing is that Montecito District will shut down the water supply during potential debris flows because they are being named in the suits too. When you begin alerting to power shortages is when you now have potential for wide spread looting & crime. ...more gun & generator sales

a-1561565081 Mar 23, 2018 12:58 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

Things that don't work when the power is turned off: gasoline pumps, grocery stores, elevators, Edhat, KEYT, your lights/refrigerator/cellphone charger/computer/television/A.C. Can you call 911 to report a fire, or crime, if the electricity is turned off?

a-1561565081 Mar 23, 2018 12:42 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

Pay attention. Edison might want to try the same thing as PG&E. Can you imagine on a Fire Weather Watch day when we are paying attention to news coverage of possible fires, that the power is turned off? Or, on a Sundowner winds day, power turned off, in case a tree falls over into a power line and sparks a fire. But, we don't know about the fire because the pre-ordained Edison decision that power should be shut off. No Edhat, no KEYT or press conference. Be alert: Utilities, monkey-see, monkey-do.

Roger Mar 23, 2018 12:22 PM
PG&E to Shut Off Power in Wind and Fire Danger

I think I'm going to be buying alot of canned foods...Wasn't the Thomas fire their fault anyway? It cost me over 300. dollars in food and I'm poor anyway I also pay my utilities on time every month. I think it Sucks.

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