California - PG&E begins to cut power for up to 800,000 Customers

gmerkt

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A generator is a sign of privileged.
Glad you didn't say "white" privilege because my generator is red.

Seriously, I don't know that owning a generator is all that privileged or even exclusive. Lots of the vagrants who live in ratty motor homes and trailers down in the SODO district have them. They ain't got a legal place to park their "home" but they got a generator.

I'd like to have mine wired into my home but I'm not an electrician and to hire it done is expensive in materials and labor. Not justified (at this time) for the infrequent use that it's put to. And I'd have to build a little structure for it next to the house. As I understand it, they automatically disconnect your main breaker source so as not to feed current back up the line. But how about all the stuff on your panel that the generator wouldn't support? You'd have to make sure all that heavy drawers of current were shut down too.
 

RicInOR

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And, just because they can, in CA if you have solar panels and are on the grid, (to sell un used power, of course) PGE will turn them off.

More than 868,000 California homes have solar panels that are interconnected to the state’s power grid, with a total generating capacity of almost 4.8 million kilowatts. Those solar panels connected to the grid will also be shut off if they are in areas where PG&E is cutting off power. Those homes will only have power if they have battery backup like the Tesla Powerwall or a gas generator.

You'll only have your own battery backup.





I am gobsmacked by how stupid that sounds. Perhaps the article is wrong.
But having those panels is a privilege, and if everyone can't share, neither can you.


update
During a power outage, the power utility sends out repair crews to find and fix the points of failure. Linemen and women will be jeopardized if there is a local power generator (like a solar array) leaking power onto the grid lines. Solar arrays must automatically shut down per utility regulations.
Why not a disconnect to prevent power from leaving your panel and going to the grid? That way your freezer won't thaw and you won't die cause your CPAP can't be used.
 
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In planning for my generator and transfer switch install, I built a spreadsheet with each appliance and the expected peak and normal load. I can flag the breakers I HAVE to keep on (well pump, fridge, freezer, and minimum lighting) then I can flag those that can be used sparingly like washer, dryer, dishwasher. I can track which if those I use sparingly on a case by case basis.

There is a $300 tool that you can install on your breakers to monitor the actual accumulated load, but for now what I am planning will do.

I'll purchase the generator first so when the meter is pulled I can keep the fridge/freezer running while the wiring is rerouted from the meter through the transfer switch, then on to the breaker box.

My brother-in-laws experience from the PGE shutdown is the basis of this process. He planned well.
 
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I think California is intentionally placing PG&E in an untenable position:
  • They won't allow PG&E to clear vegetation and brush from the transmission line right of ways which is what caused the previos fires
  • PG&E was then held responsible for the fires created by government policy
  • When PG&E were then forced to cut power they were naturally ostracized by the same politicians whose policies caused the problem
IMO California has set PG&E up so they can justify "nationalizing" PG&E like Hugo Chavez did to the oil industry in Venezuela.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why California is forcing the removal of HAM repeaters and moving all emergency communications to an encrypted state managed system - keep the citizens in the dark while preventing them from communicating with each other.
 

USMC1911

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I think California is intentionally placing PG&E in an untenable position:
  • They won't allow PG&E to clear vegetation and brush from the transmission line right of ways which is what caused the previos fires
  • PG&E was then held responsible for the fires created by government policy
  • When PG&E were then forced to cut power they were naturally ostracized by the same politicians whose policies caused the problem
IMO California has set PG&E up so they can justify "nationalizing" PG&E like Hugo Chavez did to the oil industry
PG&E lets the system rot in place so when a HUGE event like a fire or earthquake happens they can ask for money from the government to fix it. Profit is the only driver for PG&E. While California is to blame for a lot of crappy policy that makes power and building new power infrastructure expensive PG&E is to blame for the crappy condition of the lines/systems they fail to maintain.
 
OP
ATCclears

ATCclears

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PG&E Corp. ’s chief executive said Friday that it could take as long as 10 years for the company to improve its electric system enough to significantly diminish the need to pull the plug on customers to reduce the risk of sparking fires.


 
OP
ATCclears

ATCclears

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WSJ alert:


PG&E Warns of Potential Second Planned California Blackout
Californians are facing a potential second round of pre-emptive power outages, with the state’s largest utility working to prevent its equipment from sparking wildfires as hot, gusty winds are forecast later this week.
PG&E said it might cut electricity to parts of 16 counties in the Sierra Foothills and north of San Francisco. About 200,000 households and businesses were notified that they might lose power starting late Wednesday, the bankrupt utility said.
 

Catherine1

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PG&E Corp. ’s chief executive said Friday that it could take as long as 10 years for the company to improve its electric system enough to significantly diminish the need to pull the plug on customers to reduce the risk of sparking fires.


I am reading this all over the WWWeb too.

Ten years! Maybe more?!

Cate
 

Flymph

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And, just because they can, in CA if you have solar panels and are on the grid, (to sell un used power, of course) PGE will turn them off.




You'll only have your own battery backup.





I am gobsmacked by how stupid that sounds. Perhaps the article is wrong.
But having those panels is a privilege, and if everyone can't share, neither can you.


update


Why not a disconnect to prevent power from leaving your panel and going to the grid? That way your freezer won't thaw and you won't die cause your CPAP can't be used.
I'm just going to guess that the reason is that the system is hard wired into the grid. That way there is less power decay from panel to grid with reduced risk of surge to your battery and home. I also know that constant input reduces battery life.
IDK I'm not an electrician, I just try to make sense of nonsense situations.

Maybe one day Californian's will realize the disaster of a state they have always been.
 

USMC1911

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It comes down to saftey if I had to guess. The reason for turning off the solar source is to keep the backfeed out of the system. Total isolation of the backfeed to the system is really the only way to keep lineman out of harms way. You cant give a homeowner the ability to turn it on at the their leisure. Backfeed to a transformer creates full voltage on the line so any ability for the homeowner to possibly energize the line could really put the lineman in a deadly position.
 
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I am reading this all over the WWWeb too.

Ten years! Maybe more?!

Cate
I do not see how they could correct both the line maintenance AND the failing infrastructure in 10 years. Virtually all these private utilities companies have inferior lines and no maintenance. If they had to maintain and replace aging lines, that would dramatically impact and the shareholders would have an absolute sh*t fit over than and bail.

The perfect storms lined up with the failing and unmaintained infrastructure, weather conditions and the loss of life and heavy property damages, met a bunch of pissed off people with very good lawyers who is now sticking it to them. They have not maintained their systems for 30 years or more. Reliable restoration would take 20 years with a dedicated and concerted effort, which will not be done since that would impact profits and bring the aforementioned pissed off shareholders back in the equation.

I have talked to friends in that area, and the surrounding areas are preparing for people leaving those areas to areas where electricity is on for the duration of the "weather event" as the media seems to want to call it. One of my sons friends says it is just like what it was when he was in Iraq in 2006. The electricity might be on, it might not, it might come on for a few hours, unknown when though. Really ?? This is the US, not some world sh*thole where basic services are in doubt at all times.
 

ZigZagZeke

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What’s the real deal down there?

Sierra club (or other such groups) made it too difficult for the utility companies (regulatory wise) to maintain there rights of way in a safe manner?

...or has PGE actually simply been lax maintaining rights of way, for decades. Now a fire hazard all of a sudden?

These (and similar) have been around for a long while:

View attachment 623373

Making even remote right of way maintenance cost effective...
I worked for PG&E from 1981 to 2001, then fled the company and worked for PGE in Portland for the next 12 years.

In about 1985 their CEO, who had an engineering background (as did all previous CEOs), retired and was replaced by Dick Clarke, a UC Berkeley trained lawyer, and a bean counter. Over the next 15 years the company's work force shrank from 30,000 to 18,000. Historically, PG&E had staffed to provide customers the ultimate in reliability and safety. Staffing was sized to meet major overhaul and emergency situations, and during other times we had enough staff to clean, paint, inspect, and generally keep our equipment in showroom condition. Some of our power plants had been built in 1920, but they were kept in as-new condition.

The changes in staffing were justified by stating that we could bring in contractors during times of emergency or during major overhauls, and the rest of the time all that unnecessary staffing cut into profits. The same philosophy was applied to tree trimming and transmission equipment maintenance. If it's not broken, don't mess with it was the new marching order. In fact, toward the end of my tenure in power plants the buzz phrase was "run to failure". What that meant was that we would no longer preventively maintain our equipment. That like-new 70 year old equipment was allowed to deteriorate until it fell apart. You can imagine how that set with those of us who had lovingly maintained that equipment and were proud of the shape we kept it in.

So the profiteers took over, replacing all of the engineers in management with bean counters. "Run to failure" became a reality. The saving grace was that as these power plants became unreliable they were sold off to companies like Duke and Calpine, so those chickens never came home to roost.

It was no different with the transmission equipment. After deregulation PG&E thought they were going to be in the power brokering business, running the grid, but that function was taken over by a state agency, so all they were left with was the transmission and distribution business. They couldn't sell the transmission equipment they had let deteriorate to an unsafe level. Now those chickens ARE coming home to roost.

So don't feel sorry for PG&E. They extracted their profits from the company assets decades ago. Now they are paying the piper. I'm doubly glad that I don't work for them anymore, and that I got out of California before it all came crashing down.
 

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